Tying Yourself Up In Knots

Yet another reminder of ecclesiastical superiority:

I am Catholic because Catholicism is true.

It is not a little true.

It is not some truth mixed with error; if I wanted that, I definitely wouldn’t be here. I am Catholic because the Catholic Church is the only place you will find the fullness of Truth. It is for Truth that I became a Catholic, and it is for Truth that I will die a Catholic.

So what’s a truth-affirming Roman Catholic supposed to do with the historical circumstances that reduce credibility, like the Index of Books?

The Index dated back to the Council of Trent, where the Council Fathers sought to protect the faith and morals of the Catholic population by preventing the reading of heretical and immoral books.

Even before that, at the Fifth Lateran Council and earlier, in the ninth century, the Church attempted to ban books which were considered inappropriate reading. And restrictions on the public’s right to read have been imposed, not only by the Catholic Church, but by the Puritans in the original American Colonies.

I remember first learning about the Index at my mother’s knee. In hushed tones she spoke of a neighbor, a woman who scorned the Church’s guidance and dared to read the banned books. At the same time, she raised an eyebrow at the thought that some might ignore the Catholic Legion of Decency’s “C” (Condemned) rating for films or its secular equivalent, the Hayes Code.

If the church has THE truth, and if it puts out an index on THE errors, then isn’t it odd that truth affirmers may now read error? The reaction to the Index on the anniversary of its abolition (that’s right) is mixed. According to Simcha Fisher:

“My take? The Index was a very bad thing, and it’s much more in keeping with a developed understanding of conscience for the faithful to make their own decisions about what to read…. At the same time, it would be a very good thing if the faithful had a clearer understanding that they do have a duty to make careful decisions about what to read.”

David Mills counters:

“…the idea of an index only sounds funny to us because we don’t think of ideas as dangerous. We recognise physical infections but not intellectual ones…. In that, the advantage goes to the men who invented the Index and kept it going. They took ideas seriously. They thought some ideas would poison you just like nicotine-filled smoke and that some people who might innocently indulge should be protected from poisoning themselves.”

Kathy Schiffer takes comfort from everyone doing it:

the truth is that censorship exists everywhere—and that frequently, those most determined to limit ideas are those on the left. Censorship is at play when people would ban the name of God in a public meeting, obliterate the Ten Commandments on a courtroom wall, prevent schoolchildren from being exposed to the Bible in the classroom. Christian parents, in a case of right-triggered censorship, may applaud the removal of the lesbian-themed “Heather Has Two Mommies” from the elementary school library, while at the same time celebrating as a victory for free speech the inclusion of a prayer by the valedictorian at a commencement ceremony.

Even Luther:

The heretical priest Martin Luther, whose rejection of Catholic teaching triggered the Protestant Reformation, engaged in censorship of ideas which he found incompatible with his personal worldview. Besides his inclusion into the Scriptures of the phrase “faith alone,” Luther reportedly burned St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae—his seminal survey of things social and moral and theological—as well as his other works on the nature of God and the world.

Where does this leave the one who says he’s found the truth in Rome? It leaves him in an awkward spot:

But one thing I had solved was the authority of the Church to teach these things. I knew that the Church was protected by the Holy Spirit from ever teaching error. And so I said to myself: Well, if the Catholic Church can not teach any doctrine that is false, then any remaining problems that I have are my own error, and not the Church’s.

That was a key moment for me: the realization that I am not the arbiter of Truth. The Church is, guided by the Holy Spirit. I am not the Church’s teacher; the Church is my teacher.

Except that the teacher no longer instructs about which books are bad, and the same teacher lets students make up their own minds.

Can someone tell the apologists (that includes Bryan and the Jasons) to act like Vatican II happened?

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695 thoughts on “Tying Yourself Up In Knots

  1. “what’s a truth-affirming Roman Catholic supposed to do with the historical circumstances that reduce credibility”

    Only an issue if credibility was based upon a claim that the church cannot alter its decisions in prudential judgments or contingent application of principles, but of course the church doesn’t make that claim.

    “Except that the teacher no longer instructs about which books are bad, and the same teacher lets students make up their own minds. ”

    I know this is a persistent difficulty for you, but prudential judgments and contingent policies are not identical to doctrinal principles. The same teacher doesn’t let students make up their own minds on whether Christ is divine or Mary was assumed or the truth of the Real Presence. If I read “bad” books, that doesn’t mean any heresies in those works are suddenly doctrine now.

    “If the church has THE truth, and if it puts out an index on THE errors, then isn’t it odd that truth affirmers may now read error?”

    It’s not odd that the church can make judgments that might be mistaken or no longer deemed wise in prudential matters based on contingent and temporal circumstances. It would be odd if the church claimed the same ability/protection in those matters as it does in doctrinal ones, but it doesn’t, so it isn’t.

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  2. James Young, so the church’s judgment on appointing bishops who looked the other way with scandalous priests is just fine.

    You want to live with prudential judgments, then die with them also.

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  3. James,

    I’m not sure you appreciate the difficulty that outsiders to your church have in evaluating your claims:

    1. It’s not at all clear which of the Magisterium’s teachings are prudential judgments and which are not.
    2. How did the people living under the book ban know that the church was simply uttering a prudential judgment and not something that would get you into hell automatically if you were to ignore it?
    3. For most people in the modern West, I think, censorship is indicative of a cult movement that is all about power to control people’s thought. These book bans raise serious questions about how the Magisterium understood its power and purpose, and if it misunderstood it then, how do we have any confidence that the Magisterium gets it now?
    4. What in the world happened to make it alright for modern people to read these books? If they were dangerous to the faith then, certainly they are dangerous now. In fact, they might be more dangerous because I’m fairly certain that the average person’s doctrinal understanding in both of our communions is less today than it was even fifty years ago.

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  4. Darryl,

    “so the church’s judgment on appointing bishops who looked the other way with scandalous priests is just fine. ”

    Why would you conclude that? The church has never claimed its bishops cannot practice sin or cause scandal to the church – that would obviously be historically untenable. That’s different than the church universally teaching that sexual abuse is not sinful but rather virtuous, which it never did.

    Robert,

    1. Jesus is divine is not a prudential judgment. The best way to implement a just wage is. The latin mass being permitted along with the novus ordo is. Arianism is heresy is not a prudential judgment. This particular book advocates Arianism and shouldn’t be read is. And so on.

    2. The same way they know Francis’ statements on economic models or climate change are judgments the faithful can disagree on. The same way they know ecclesiastical and canon laws – which the Index was manifestly an expression of – can be modified or abrogated in the future.

    3. The Index was one of many methods implemented to protect the faithful from harmful or seductive ideas given the times, not to mind-control them. Was America a power-hungry cult abusing its citizens in banning certain materials – http://archive.postdesk.com/banned-books-list-reasons-why-censorship
    Given changing circumstances and times, the church deemed it was no longer wise or best and most prudent to protect the faithful in this way. Should the church not have lifted it? Should the church re-implement it? Those are questions the faithful can differ on as Darryl noted above.

    4. Given the huge increasing rate at which books were being published in the 20th century, market globalization in which people had easy access to books from all over the world, new media such as radio, film, and television, it would be practically impossible to maintain an Index. People were already using their conscience in what movies to watch or what magazines to read at the time the Index was lifted – how much value do you think the Index of a relative handful of books really serves with so much out there (and with the internet now, forget about it)? Thus, this followup: “A Notification of 14 June 1966 from the Congregation, which was published on the 15 June 1966 issue of the Vatican’s newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, announced that, while the Index maintained its moral force, in that it taught Christians to beware, as required by the natural law itself, of those writings that could endanger faith and morality, it no longer had the force of ecclesiastical positive law with the associated penalties” The lifting of the Index is not an endorsement of those works – faithful should still use care and caution consonant with their degree of formation, just as they would with any media.

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  5. James Young,

    Notice that both Loyola Marymount and Santa Clara are Catholic universities; both are Jesuit institutions, in fact. And notice that the call for abortion coverage came from “faculty members”—not janitors or cafeteria workers, but professionals hired to instruct students at these Catholic schools. Finally, notice that neither of the schools balked at providing abortion coverage; it was left to the California bishops to lodge a protest.

    Why are professors at Catholic universities demanding abortion coverage in their health-insurance plans? Didn’t they realize, when they joined the faculties of these religious institutions, that they were under some obligation to promote the schools’ Catholic mission—or, at a bare minimum, not to fight against that mission? Why hadn’t the schools made it clear to their faculty members that they were expected to respect the institutions’ Catholic identity? Why hadn’t the universities taken a stand, and fought against the state regulators who undermined that distinctive Catholic identity?

    Prudential judgment and pastoral care allows you to make up what Roman Catholicism is. Good thing there’s Denzinger.

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  6. Professors at catholic universities aren’t the magisterium. A couple of catholic universities in America aren’t the magisterium. A college enacting abortion coverage in a health-care plan for a its employees is not the same as the magisterium binding the universal church to affirm abortion is not sinful.

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  7. James Young, but they are responsible to the magisterium (or not).

    You have to admit the reasons for joining Rome increasingly look like those for joining the EU.

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  8. James,

    1. Unless you can give me an infallible list of infallible doctrines, I have no principled means to distinguish your opinion of what revealed doctrine is from what it actually is. See what I did there.

    I’m sorry, but it’s not clear at all. The necessity of Jesus for salvation? Prudential judgment or divinely revealed dogma. It leans toward the latter, but Rome’s ecumenism makes it shaky. Francis’ comments on the economy? Well, he keeps saying them, and if the pope is the vicar of Christ, should I not give his words more weight than yours.

    If you could at least admit that it isn’t easy to discern these differences and that even your theologians disagree on it, we might get somewhere.

    2. But without an infallible list of infallible dogmas, how does one do this? It’s an honest question. Is there just some kind of supernatural radio sense you get to make this distinction because you are RC? The answer STM triad isn’t helpful when neither the T or even the M has been fully identified. (M in the sense of which are clear dogmas and which aren’t). The disagreement even within your own communion shows it isn’t easy, and I would think that the answer should be when in doubt, go with the M. But then you could be falsely believing something is dogma when it isn’t.

    3. America wasn’t threatening its citizens with eternal damnation for not following its edicts.

    4. So the argument is because it is hard to make an index, it shouldn’t be done now? The relaxation of an index would seem to indicate Rome thinks her people have more mature consciences now, which is dubious.

    I agree it can’t be done now, which begs the question as to why it was ever done in the first place. Why not say in the 15th century, “exercise discernment but you are free.” That was in large measure what the reformation was all about.

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  9. Zappa named-dropped twice; that’s pretty cool but I’m staying catholic (Presbyterian) b/c it’s the truth.

    “You have to admit the reasons for joining Rome increasingly look like those for joining the EU.” checkmate

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  10. Robert,

    1. I freely admit magisterial teaching lies along a spectrum of clarity – that’s just inherent to a process of development – nothing I’ve advanced entails theologians can’t disagree or hold varying opinions. I do not admit that therefore means nothing is “clear at all” or that the faithful are seriously confused as to whether the color of priestly vestments during parts of the year or a pope’s opinion on climate change or how to best implement a just wage is on the same level as the divinity of Christ.

    “The necessity of Jesus for salvation? Prudential judgment or divinely revealed dogma.”

    Divinely revealed dogma. The church has never denied Jesus (or the church) is necessary for salvation. Its various ecumenical approaches to various groups differ according to circumstances and context – because those are prudential matters.

    2. “Is there just some kind of supernatural radio sense you get to make this distinction because you are RC? ”

    The church has laid out guidelines at various times – Trent, Vat1, Vat2, other magisterial docs have all covered it in various ways. There is no ESP amongst the faithful going on. I will say that part of the STM-triad is the common public life, faith, worship of the church – so I would only allow your comment in that qualified sense. The faithful know there’s a thing called canon/ecclesiastical law and that these things can change (and any casual inquirer should know the same) – that’s why you don’t see a mass exodus of people when some revision or change gets issued such as translation changes in the novus ordo liturgy a few years back – people weren’t fretting that the church was no longer infallible, because the church has repeatedly taught infallibility is narrow in scope. Similarly, when the Index was lifted in the 60’s, we didn’t see a mass wailing from people disillusioned now that the church obviously just falsified itself in such an obvious manner.

    3. America and other western democracies who banned certain works at times weren’t trying to mind-control or oppress its citizens.

    4. “So the argument is because it is hard to make an index, it shouldn’t be done now?”

    That’s one line of argument. Another related one is that it serves no practical purpose given the massive amount of information and work in countless formats available. There’s no “the” argument. Because it’s a prudential matter. There are many factors. Maybe the church made a stupid decision lifting it. Maybe it didn’t. Faithful can legitimately disagree on the value of the Index. Maybe it’s a good idea in theory, but no longer practical. Maybe it’s only a good practical idea in certain circumstances that no longer apply. Maybe those circumstances no longer apply in part given globalization and dissolution of the state-church relationship. Maybe it’s never been a good idea in theory or in practice.

    “Why not say in the 15th century, “exercise discernment but you are free.” That was in large measure what the reformation was all about”

    Books were banned in Protestant-led churches and states during the Reformation, including good ole Geneva.

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  11. CVD: Jesus is divine is not a prudential judgment. The best way to implement a just wage is. The latin mass being permitted along with the novus ordo is. Arianism is heresy is not a prudential judgment. This particular book advocates Arianism and shouldn’t be read is. And so on.

    By what authority do you make those claims? Is there an authoritative list of teachings that are prudential judgments and teachings that are not? Is that authoritative list mentioned on itself as one of the irreformable and infallible teachings?

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  12. Cletus,

    So what you are basically saying is that the faithful have a sense by the Spirit of what has been divinely revealed with clarity and what hasn’t. Awfully hard to differentiate that from confessional Protestantism. I suppose you have the infallible Magisterium as a backstop, but it’s not at all clear what has been declared infallible and what hasn’t. As Jeff notes, since there is no infallible list of infallible dogma. Which kind of renders a lot of Rome’s criticism of us kind of moot, or at least unable to provide a real solution to the problems identified.

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  13. Jeff,

    There is no list (though Denzinger, the catechism, Ott are nice starting points but obviously not infallible in and of themselves). Nor does there need to be for the STM-triad to function as a coherent rule of faith, nor would a Protestant denomination offering an exhaustive list of all its beliefs resolve faults non-Protestants find with its rule of faith. The deposit of faith is not a list of enumerated articles. I make those claims because the STM-triad has laid out criteria for distinguishing infallible dogma and principles from prudential judgments and contingent application of those principles – distinctions evident in its daily operation and throughout history.

    Robert,

    It’s not at all clear what has been declared infallible? I just said above magisterial teaching lies along a spectrum. A spectrum does not entail everything is “not at all clear”. Jesus’ divinity and the Resurrection is dogma. Romans is inspired and the book of mormon is not is dogma. Mary’s Assumption is dogma. Pelagianism is heresy is dogma. The Real Presence is dogma. And so on.

    “since there is no infallible list of infallible dogma.”

    There was no infallible list of articles the apostles and Christ gave to people. Yet Christ and the Apostles still infallibly taught infallible and universally binding dogma. According to your argument, Christ and the Apostles – bereft of an infallible list of dogmas they handed out to people – were unable to provide a solution to the problems of Jewish misinterpretation and misunderstanding.

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  14. Nor does there need to be [an infallible list of infallible doctrines] for the STM-triad to function as a coherent rule of faith, …The deposit of faith is not a list of enumerated articles. I make those claims because the STM-triad has laid out criteria for distinguishing infallible dogma and principles from prudential judgments and contingent application of those principles – distinctions evident in its daily operation and throughout history.

    So the workability rests on evidence in the daily operation (and throughout history) of how the RCC actually deals with theological questions? This is why the examples of LCWR, Katie Grimes, Massimo Faggioli, Fr. Martin, Cardinal Danneels, and relative unorthodox beliefs of broad swaths of RC laity on foundational issues for the church (existence of hell, real presence, acceptability of divorce, ssm, etc…) have force for a lot of us.

    The charge against SSRPs is that our belief in scripture as the sole final authority on matters of faith leaves us at the whim of personal opinion and thus a buhjillion denominations. This charge fails on several fronts – now one might want to argue that SSRP was an insufficient bulwark against the acids of modernity, but that is a different conversation not the charge leveled by CtC. The response of course it that Christians that adhere to SSRP show a great deal of unity on theological questions that come from our final authority. Those that reject SS, of course show a great deal of diversity – a diversity reflected by the broad range of belief reflected by RC clergy (and certainly for laity). Thus the sociological evidence you appeal to undermines your case. If the STM-triad makes things so clear, then why do so many men of the cloth who have devoted their lives to service to the church and other doctors of the church who have devoted their lives to teaching RC college students about the faith seem to be doing so poorly at coming to consensus on what is irreformable dogma (and where in the hierarchy of truths things become really self evident and irreformable – to borrow Fr. Martin’s response to the Douthat).

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  15. CVD: There is no list (though Denzinger, the catechism, Ott are nice starting points but obviously not infallible in and of themselves). Nor does there need to be for the STM-triad to function as a coherent rule of faith,

    Then neither does there need to be an infallible canon to function as a rule of faith. Nor does there need to be an infallible interpretation thereof.

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  16. I was just reading an interesting column by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry (a conservative cradle Catholic – who also writes a lot of interesting things). In it I noticed the following line,

    That is, if science is an actual disinterested pursuit, and not a priestly class that, like all priestly classes, eventually forgets its calling and just seeks to aggrandize its power and control the masses.

    Given his harsh anti-prot bromides, this is a very interesting line coming from him.

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  17. James Young, on what planet do you live?

    The faithful know there’s a thing called canon/ecclesiastical law and that these things can change (and any casual inquirer should know the same) – that’s why you don’t see a mass exodus of people when some revision or change gets issued such as translation changes in the novus ordo liturgy a few years back – people weren’t fretting that the church was no longer infallible, because the church has repeatedly taught infallibility is narrow in scope.

    How in anyway does that assertion square with the utter disregard by “the faithful” of the pastoral application which always remains and never changes of no contraceptives, no sex for pleasure.

    Though I hear the most faithful, Francis, is doing what he can to blur this line in the sand.

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  18. James Young, “I make those claims because the STM-triad has laid out criteria for distinguishing infallible dogma and principles from prudential judgments and contingent application of those principles – distinctions evident in its daily operation and throughout history.”

    Even when M includes Francis? He has the charism. You don’t. Mind your place.

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  19. James,

    Jesus’ divinity and the Resurrection is dogma. Romans is inspired and the book of mormon is not is dogma. Mary’s Assumption is dogma. Pelagianism is heresy is dogma. The Real Presence is dogma. And so on.

    But where is the infallible list of these things. Yeah, I get that various councils have declared some of them, but where is the infallible list of which conciliar pronouncements are infallible and which are not? I’m certainly not going to get all RCs admitted to the Eucharist to have an identical list.

    There was no infallible list of articles the apostles and Christ gave to people. Yet Christ and the Apostles still infallibly taught infallible and universally binding dogma. According to your argument, Christ and the Apostles – bereft of an infallible list of dogmas they handed out to people – were unable to provide a solution to the problems of Jewish misinterpretation and misunderstanding.

    Christ and the Apostles were oracles of revelation, divinely inspired, so apples and oranges. Now if you want to somehow apply their authority to the successive church, that is your prerogative, but that makes the M the rule of faith. Which is, ironically, what at least one of the regular writers told me over at CTC.

    So is it the M or the STM that is rule of faith?

    I’d also add that there is a difference between having a handful of followers and having a billion plus members. It was easy to ask Christ and the Apostles for binding dogma; impossible to ask the church without it producing a written document of some kind. But where is that infallible list?

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  20. sdb,

    The daily and historical operation of the church reflects the distinction, as we would expect. Trent and other councils made infallible definitions. In those same documents they distinguished disciplinary canons from dogmatic ones. No one is confused as to whether the color of liturgical vestments this month in America, or Benedict’s loosening up of latin mass celebrations, or the Index being lifted, or any number of prudential and practical operational matters is dogmatic and irreformable or disciplinary and mutable. No one is confused that Rome teaches Christ’s divinity and Resurrection, the Real Presence, baptismal regeneration, intercession of the saints, and so on as dogmatic.

    “relative unorthodox beliefs”

    How could you judge these people as possibly unorthodox if Rome is so hopelessly unclear on its dogmatic teaching? As you say later “If the STM-triad makes things so clear”, so which is it?

    “The response of course it that Christians that adhere to SSRP show a great deal of unity on theological questions that come from our final authority. ”

    The charge of CtC and others would go through even if you were the only Protestant and thus had perfect unity, as I’ve previously explained. Secondly, your artificial limitation of Protestants to “SSRP”s is ad hoc. Thirdly, I could list out many denominations that claim to adhere to SS you would deny as Christian or affirm as in error.

    “aggrandize its power”

    No doubt bishops and popes have been power-hungry in the past and today. That hardly entails it is inherent to the office or system. There are countless priests past and present toiling away in heroic virtue.

    Jeff,

    “Then neither does there need to be an infallible canon to function as a rule of faith.”

    When Scripture is your sole final infallible authority, there does.

    “Nor does there need to be an infallible interpretation thereof.”

    Right, any teaching given in Protestantism (including anything upstream from interpretation, such as the rule of faith itself, the identification of the canon and its contents, revelation was given and is closed, etc.) is not offered as infallible. So there’s no dogma offered by Protestantism.

    Robert,

    “But where is the infallible list of these things.”

    There doesn’t need to be an infallible list identify dogmatic teachings. I don’t need an exhaustive list of all American laws to know certain things are not lawful. I don’t need an exhaustive list of all teachings of the PCA to know what it believes authoritatively. Nor do I ask PCA members for an exhaustive list of all teachings it claims are taught and contained in Scripture to know what it believes. Maybe you can start one if you like.

    “Christ and the Apostles were oracles of revelation, divinely inspired, so apples and oranges”

    Your point is that it is impossible to know what is infallible dogma if there is no infallible list, and relatedly it is impossible to distinguish infallible teaching from mutable reformable teachings if there is no infallible list. There was no infallible enumerated list given by Christ or the Apostles during NT times as they walked around. Did their followers therefore have no way to know dogma or have their misunderstanding authoritatively corrected? You want to get to the infinite regress argument – but if it doesn’t work during NT times under Christ and the Apostles, it doesn’t work in this case either.

    Secondly, in NT times we see that very distinction between mutable application/practice and dogmatic principles – we see Paul’s rebuke of Peter’s actions, we see the PCA no longer following Paul’s injunctions with women’s head-coverings and jewelry, men’s hair, eating blood and strangled animals. As Augsburg noted, “The Apostles commanded Acts 15:20 to abstain from blood. Who does now observe it? And yet they that do it not sin not; for not even the Apostles themselves wanted to burden consciences with such bondage; but they forbade it for a time, to avoid offense. For in this decree we must perpetually consider what the aim of the Gospel is.”

    So on both fronts, you’re making this more difficult than it needs to be.

    “Now if you want to somehow apply their authority to the successive church”

    Of course I do. Rome claims apostolic and divine authority via apostolic succession by virtue of Christ’s promises.

    “but that makes the M the rule of faith”

    So the OT wasn’t part of the rule of faith during Christ and the Apostles’ ministry. Parallel authorities do not have to be in conflict or supersede each other, which you’re presupposing.

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  21. James Young, “No one is confused as to whether the color of liturgical vestments this month in America, or Benedict’s loosening up of latin mass celebrations, or the Index being lifted, or any number of prudential and practical operational matters is dogmatic and irreformable or disciplinary and mutable.”

    Wow. RC’s are as knowledgeable as Dutch Calvinists used to be with Heidelberg.

    Except, how do you explain Al Smith who said “what the hell is an encyclical.”

    You guys sure do lay it on thick but no one believes you, not even 95% of Roman Catholics.

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  22. Cletus,
    Reconcile:

    When Scripture is your sole final infallible authority, there does.

    There doesn’t need to be an infallible list identify dogmatic teachings. I don’t need an exhaustive list of all American laws to know certain things are not lawful. I don’t need an exhaustive list of all teachings of the PCA to know what it believes authoritatively. Nor do I ask PCA members for an exhaustive list of all teachings it claims are taught and contained in Scripture to know what it believes. Maybe you can start one if you like.

    So if Protestants had more than one source of infallible authority, an infallible list of infallible dogma would not be necessary. What the what?

    And further, I can hand you the PCA Book of Church Order and Westminster Confession and there you go. It is no more infallible than your CCC since the CCC has not been declared infallible. So we’re back to the same starting point.

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  23. Robert,

    If your “more than one source” was just more books added to the canon, then no. An infallible list is not necessary when you have TM as parallel authorities, just as an infallible list was not necessary when TM were operating during NT times. You reject both. Thus your church’s identification of the canon and its contents remains fallible and reformable, as do all teachings offered by your church and tradition. How do you propose a reformable collection of books serve as your sole infallible authority and as a coherent rule of faith when that collection does not identify what texts belong in it and which don’t, does not identify what passages within those texts belong in it and which don’t, (both of which thus skew Scripture interpreting Scripture as practiced in your rule of faith), does not teach or identify itself as the sole infallible authority in the first place (and actually points to the opposite), does not itself teach SS or that revelation has ended, and so on?

    Right – you can easily identify PCA doctrine based on its documents. Just as you can easily identify Rome’s doctrine. Then when infallibility gets introduced, you suddenly jump from that to everything becoming hopelessly murky and difficult to distinguish and discern absent an infallible list. But you haven’t argued why, just assumed.

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  24. ” No one is confused that Rome teaches Christ’s divinity and Resurrection, the Real Presence, baptismal regeneration, intercession of the saints, and so on as dogmatic.”
    This is a false statement. About half of US RCs do not know that the RCC officially holds to the real presence. Wills and McBride (for example) argue that many contemporary teachings of the church are not dogma. “No one” is a high bar.

    ” “relative unorthodox beliefs”

    How could you judge these people as possibly unorthodox if Rome is so hopelessly unclear on its dogmatic teaching? As you say later “If the STM-triad makes things so clear”, so which is it?”
    Because there is a broad consensus on what the mainstream position of the rcc has been on a number of issues. One doesn’t need to commit to a normative stance on them to recognize that this group rejects traditional teachings. These guys might dispute whether they were really “dogma” or perhaps whether dogma can change with the times. To say “relative unorthodox” is just a shorthand way of saying they reject the stance of the trad or conservative wing of the church. They might argue that they are being truer to the traditions of the church (Wills argues this explicitly). Who is right? It is all so…unclear.

    ” The charge of CtC and others would go through even if you were the only Protestant and thus had perfect unity, as I’ve previously explained. ”
    You were unconvincing. Your case hinged on the rejection of the Holy Spirit speaking through scripture.

    “Secondly, your artificial limitation of Protestants to “SSRP”s is ad hoc. ”
    No it isn’t. If your method depends on SS and one rejects SS, then it doesn’t make sense to charge SS as the problem. Most prots reject SS. Certainly Anglicans, Methodists, and movements descended from them. The mainline has also left SS behind. The restorationists reject it as well.

    “Thirdly, I could list out many denominations that claim to adhere to SS you would deny as Christian or affirm as in error.”
    I doubt there are churches that adhere to the parts of the wcf that fall asleep under what is widely considered to fall under the rubric of ss that I would consider to not be Christian. But then I’m pretty ecumenical. As far as error goes, you got me. Any church that you mention, I would agree is wrong about something.

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  25. ” Right – you can easily identify PCA doctrine based on its documents. Just as you can easily identify Rome’s doctrine. Then when infallibility gets introduced, you suddenly jump from that to everything becoming hopelessly murky and difficult to distinguish and discern absent an infallible list. But you haven’t argued why, just assumed.”

    That’s easy. You have a fallible system for identifying which teachings are infallible and which aren’t. We know all of our teachings could be improved, and the only teachings that can’t are God’s word. Your system adds an extra complication.

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  26. Cletus, you cannot point to any Church teaching and say, “I know with certainty that this is infallible teaching” UNLESS

    (1) That teaching has been identified infallibly as infallible teaching, OR
    (2) “with certainty” is allowed to mean “with not-infallible certainty.”

    Since you freely admit that you do not have (1), it must be the case that you are trading on (2) without realizing it.

    That is, when you say that “no one is confused that Rome teaches Christ’s divinity”, what you really mean is “there is a consensus that Rome teaches Christ’s divinity.” The reason that you know that Rome teaches Christ’s divinity is that everyone you know whom you consider to be an authority has told you so — has told you *that* Rome teaches Christ’s divinity, has explained to you *what that means*, etc.

    This means that your certainty rests on the fallible consensus that Rome does, in fact, teach Christ’s divinity. As sdb points out, there are actually people — Catholic theologians — confused about what the Church teaches. Ratzinger thought that leading church theologians were either confused or confusing:

    To what extent they [Rahner et al] judged the situation at the time can remain an open question, but it is evident that the danger today is exactly the opposite. It is not Monophysitism that threatens Christianity but a new Arianism or.. .at least a pronounced new Nestorianism to which, incidentally, with a kind of inner logic, a new iconoclasm corresponds.

    “Those Misleading Leading Theologians”

    Even you are confused about some church teaching. Does Rome teach, or does it not teach, that Protestants are likely saved? The Baltimore Catechism says probably not; the CCC says probably so. You have never provided a definitive answer to why the BC and CCC contradict one another except to hem about whether catechisms count as Church teaching (!).

    I have no problem with consensus. Consensus is important in knowledge. The STM method is actually reasonably sound, within a non-infallible certainty framework, for coming to judgments about what the Church teaches. The only problem is that you turn around and deny that Protestant consensus on the canon counts as “certainty.”

    And that’s where you fall off the cliff into special pleading. You can’t have it both ways: If consensus gives some kind of certainty to the Catholic, then consensus can give some kind of certainty to the Protestant.

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  27. If your “more than one source” was just more books added to the canon, then no. An infallible list is not necessary when you have TM as parallel authorities, just as an infallible list was not necessary when TM were operating during NT times.

    You still haven’t answered the “why” it’s not necessary. I suspect the real answer is, “If you have any questions, ask the M just as you could ask Jesus and the Apostles.” But that answer doesn’t work because first, it doesn’t recognize the difference between the post-Apostolic church and the current church, a difference that even Rome affirms must exist. And second, it’s not really possible to ask the M. You don’t have access to the pope. The best you have is access to your bishop, who may or may not give you the same answer as bishop x, bishop y, or bishop z. The church isn’t going to call a council based on your question alone, and even if it did, you are left with a rather arbitrary way of figuring out what is infallibly taught by the council and what isn’t. And if you have any question, you go ask the M, which as I’ve pointed out is impossible.

    You reject both.

    I don’t reject T or M during the Apostolic era. What I reject is the notion that there is a T that teaches anything different than Scripture. If the material sufficiency guys are correct, which is a viable Roman position, then the T is superfluous. It itself is not divine revelation, and whatever it teaches is found in Scripture anyway. Which leaves us only with the M, but M is not inspired and must be subservient to S if there was indeed a change from the Apostolic era to the post-Apostolic era. Sola scripture is just the consistent outworking of all that.

    Thus your church’s identification of the canon and its contents remains fallible and reformable, as do all teachings offered by your church and tradition.

    You continue to state this as if this is not true of Rome as well. But Rome continues to reform its dogma at least in the same way that the Reformed do, and that is to grow in deeper understanding. And frankly, it is rather unclear how having something unreformable and infallible is helpful to those who live before a doctrine is codified. You have no infallibly declared canon until Trent, so everyone living until then had to be in perpetual doubt about the canon if you are to be consistent. There was no Magisterial or traditional agreement as to the content of the OT in the Western church, so you really couldn’t ask the T or the M. At best you could arrive at a broad-based consensus, but this consensus was fallible and reformable given that various proponents of different canons all had a greater say at various times. So at least with respect to those who lived prior to Trent, in regard to the canon, if you are right, you could rely either on a broad based consensus or you could have people running around with no way to discern the opinion of canon from the revelation of canon because it hasn’t been offered as infallible and irreformable. But obviously, the church continued to operate with only a broad-based consensus and didn’t need an infallible and irreformable canon, and you want to say that such can’t be the case with Protestantism.

    So, what you are ultimately saying is that you don’t really need an infallibly defined dogma to discern opinion from divine truth, at least it is not absolutely necessary. The church got along just fine and was able to identify divine revelation. After all, nobody needed it to identify the OT canon when you had no list and no agreement aside from a broad-based consensus (which means you really couldn’t ask the T or the M because you could always find someone in each who deviated from the consensus and you could always find something in the T that deviated since T had not yet been codified in any way).

    Now, I suppose there may come a point when the M decides it is necessary to issue an infallible dogma, but it seems rather arbitrary to identify those points (why do some heresies get addressed and not others?), and it doesn’t at all answer the point that Protestants can happily rely on a broad-based consensus to discern opinion from divine truth and point to the eschaton as the point at which faith will be sight and the declaration you so crave come directly from God Himself.

    How do you propose a reformable collection of books

    But as has been pointed out ad nauseum, we aren’t proposing a reformable collection of books except perhaps in the most theoretical way, which is exactly what you are saying about Rome since you have admitted that there are things that could happen in theory that would cause you to leave the Roman church.

    serve as your sole infallible authority and as a coherent rule of faith when that collection does not identify what texts belong in it and which don’t, does not identify what passages within those texts belong in it and which don’t, (both of which thus skew Scripture interpreting Scripture as practiced in your rule of faith), does not teach or identify itself as the sole infallible authority in the first place (and actually points to the opposite), does not itself teach SS or that revelation has ended, and so on?

    We have no way to identify what T is infallibly because the M hasn’t done it. The best M can do is issue statements which are fallibly received by the individual, who cannot know when he has read them correctly until the M offers further comment, which comments may actually make vast numbers of people in church history guilty of error. (No salvation outside the church REALLY means all Christians are incorporated into the Roman Church in various strengths via baptism so it REALLY is possible for Luther and Calvin to be saved). So you really have no clue, if you are consistent, as to whether you are orthodox or not. You might be a material heretic because there might be a council or pope in the future that invalidates some or all of your current understandings of any one dogma.

    Rome hasn’t identified which passages belong in the Bible and which don’t, so it is not at all clear how the Magisterium can lean on that stool.

    Jesus expected his audience to know that Genesis was Scripture apart from any infallible declaration of canon. He also expected his audience to know what was in Genesis apart from any infallible declaration of canon. And of course, there was no infallible Jewish Magisterium to guard the Jews (As you have indicated that that is one of the things that set the old covenant apart). At best you might have an infallible T, but of course there were many Jewish sects that all disagreed on that was. So Jesus held his first-century hearers accountable to Scripture apart from their having any infallible way to identify it. So, either Jesus sinned in doing that, or you have to rethink your critique of Protestants. The best it seems to me that you can say is that Protestantism doesn’t have the fullness of the rule; you can say that we have no way to discern what Scripture is and isn’t with certainty.

    Right – you can easily identify PCA doctrine based on its documents. Just as you can easily identify Rome’s doctrine. Then when infallibility gets introduced, you suddenly jump from that to everything becoming hopelessly murky and difficult to distinguish and discern absent an infallible list. But you haven’t argued why, just assumed.

    That’s only because you deny the ability of Protestants to operate on consensus in order to discern truth from opinion but are perfectly happy to let Roman Catholics do so. (As Jeff had noted). It’s the selective skepticism that is the problem. If you would be consistent and admit that since Roman Catholics don’t need infallibility to discern truth from opinion, at least on the individual what Cletus believes level, then neither do I or any other Protestant. But that is precisely what you and the CtC argument deny.

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  28. Robert,

    And second, it’s not really possible to ask the M. You don’t have access to the pope. The best you have is access to your bishop, who may or may not give you the same answer as bishop x, bishop y, or bishop z.

    More than this…even if you ask the Pope you have to determine whether he is speaking ex cathedra or as a private theologian. It’s actually possible the pope’s answer could end up with you being posthumously condemned (See Sergius & Honorius). And if you aren’t sure if the Pope is speaking ex cathedra or not you could ask him…but that re-introduces the problem of whether or not it is his private opinion or his teaching as the vicar of Christ.

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  29. Jeff,

    “The only problem is that you turn around and deny that Protestant consensus on the canon counts as “certainty.””

    The Protestant canon and its contents and nature is offered as reformable by all Protestant churches and bodies. By what principle do you exclude RCs, EOs, gnostics, Marcionites, early church councils from the consensus? Do all disputed passages have Protestant consensus as to whether they should be included or excluded?

    “If consensus gives some kind of certainty to the Catholic”

    Tradition is part of the STM-triad.

    “then consensus can give some kind of certainty to the Protestant.”

    Tradition is not a parallel authority in your rule of faith.

    Robert,

    “it’s not really possible to ask the M.”

    Presumes I have to explicitly ask the M to know anything that’s infallible. The M provides answers to questions when invoking its authority in defining infallible dogma – you claim such teachings are inherently inscrutable or inaccessible to everyone, but that was no more the case now than it was during NT times when Christ and the Apostles and their successors taught infallibly.

    “you are left with a rather arbitrary way of figuring out what is infallibly taught by the council and what isn’t”

    Were followers of the Jerusalem council left with a rather arbitrary way of figuring out what was infallibly taught by it and what isn’t? Why isn’t your church following Paul’s injunctions mentioned above?

    “I don’t reject T or M during the Apostolic era.”

    Right. And there was no infallible list required then. So if there’s still a model of TM now and not some silent shift to SS just presumed, there’s no need for an infallible list now.

    “M is not inspired and must be subservient to S”

    DV: “This teaching office is not above the word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully in accord with a divine commission and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it draws from this one deposit of faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed.”

    “But Rome continues to reform its dogma at least in the same way that the Reformed do, and that is to grow in deeper understanding.”

    If that were true, you would make the same claims to authority and ability Rome does and abandon your argument concerning infallible lists. But you don’t, because Protestant semper reformanda includes the possibility of revoking or nullifying teachings that are (for now) deemed to not conform to your church’s current interpretation of Scripture and are now judged traditions of men. Until further notice.

    “The church got along just fine and was able to identify divine revelation.”

    Any teaching your church offers or identifies is offered as admittedly reformable and possibly in error and therefore, not divine revelation.

    “broad-based consensus to discern opinion from divine truth ”

    So you use opinion to discern opinion from divine truth. Because you reject M as a protected arbiter.

    “Rome hasn’t identified which passages belong in the Bible and which don’t, so it is not at all clear how the Magisterium can lean on that stool.”

    Because TM reinforce the stool. That’s the point. You are left with a single leg, thus you are left with difficulties not applicable to the STM-triad.

    “If you would be consistent and admit that since Roman Catholics don’t need infallibility to discern truth from opinion”

    I have been consistent – RCs need a system claiming infallibility (RCs do not need personal infallibility – please no mindmeld or regress argument again) to discern truth from opinion. Protestantism rejects such a system – thus leaving them unable to discern opinion from divine truth.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Clete,

    Because TM reinforce the stool. That’s the point. You are left with a single leg, thus you are left with difficulties not applicable to the STM-triad.

    That’s a contestable point. Protestants willingly affirm the high value of tradition and the ministerial authority of the church. We’re not bereft of them; we simply grant them different authority. We may be wrong, but it’s not entirely fair to phrase it as an either/or.

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  31. “Protestantism rejects such a system – thus leaving them unable to discern opinion from divine truth.”
    That’s like your opinion man.

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  32. Presumes I have to explicitly ask the M to know anything that’s infallible. The M provides answers to questions when invoking its authority in defining infallible dogma – you claim such teachings are inherently inscrutable or inaccessible to everyone,

    If it were really that simple, you could give me a list of everything that has been infallibly defined and an infallible explanation of the definition. That you can’t says a lot. It means you are resting on some kind of consensus as to what the Magisterium has definitely taught, but as we have seen that consensus differs from group to group. Liberation theologians have one consensus. Conservative philosophy majors like the CtC guys have another. Traditionalists have another. Liberal RCs have another. The only thing that unifies you (and then it doesn’t even unify all professing RCs) is a collective body of doctrines that you more or less agree on and a set of practices that you more or less agree on. That’s identical to Protestantism, which shows your infallibility isn’t giving you much.

    but that was no more the case now than it was during NT times when Christ and the Apostles and their successors taught infallibly.

    Jesus and the Apostles are organs of revelation. The M is not (at least that is what is formally said), and its debatable as to whether T is or not. Depends on what view of tradition is.

    Were followers of the Jerusalem council left with a rather arbitrary way of figuring out what was infallibly taught by it and what isn’t?

    No, because the council, being an organ of revelation, is self-authenticating. But of course, most conservative RCs have a problem with such a view even though the Roman Church must also be self-authenticating.

    Why isn’t your church following Paul’s injunctions mentioned above?

    Which injunctions?

    Right. And there was no infallible list required then. So if there’s still a model of TM now and not some silent shift to SS just presumed, there’s no need for an infallible list now.

    M is not an organ of revelation. So we are living under a different situation. Assuming Romanism is true, once I don’t have Jesus or an Apostle to talk to, I have leaders who may or may not be protected from error. So it should be easy to tell me when they have been protected from error and when they haven’t. But it’s not, as there is no agreement and the Magisterium hasn’t given a definitive list of beliefs and practices. Not even a core list. And based on what I have seen in the actual operation of your church and the beliefs of RCs, it all finally boils down to implicit faith. Which is interesting because I’ve had RCs tell me that it doesn’t matter if the individual RC knows what the dogma is as long as the church does. When he said that, a lot of things came together for me.

    DV: “This teaching office is not above the word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully in accord with a divine commission and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it draws from this one deposit of faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed.”

    Claiming something and doing something are two different things.

    If that were true, you would make the same claims to authority and ability Rome does and abandon your argument concerning infallible lists.

    Non-sequitir. Rome claims not to reform and “change” like Protestantism does, but it is very evident that it does. Drop the claim that is unsubstantiated by the actual evidence on the ground, and I’ll drop the demand for an infallible list. Until then we’re left with Rome preserving only the words of its creeds and not the meaning originally invested in them.

    But you don’t, because Protestant semper reformanda includes the possibility of revoking or nullifying teachings that are (for now) deemed to not conform to your church’s current interpretation of Scripture and are now judged traditions of men. Until further notice.

    And of course, Rome essentially revokes and nullifies teachings by keeping words and interpreting them differently than those who promulgated them. No salvation outside the church. Belief in the Trinity as necessary for salvation. Etc., Etc.

    Any teaching your church offers or identifies is offered as admittedly reformable and possibly in error and therefore, not divine revelation.

    Without an infallible list, you don’t know what you believe now won’t later be labeled heresy or unorthodox. Which is why I made the whole point about the canon. There was no way for anyone to know what the canon was until Trent. M hadn’t spoken. T wasn’t unified. So every teaching your church offers is actually if not admittedly reformable and possible in error, at least the interpretation of it is, and therefore not divine revelation.

    So you use opinion to discern opinion from divine truth. Because you reject M as a protected arbiter.

    Until you give me a list of infallible dogma, you are using your opinion to discern what is divine truth in the M and what isn’t. Which is the point you keep evading.

    Because TM reinforce the stool. That’s the point. You are left with a single leg, thus you are left with difficulties not applicable to the STM-triad.

    But TM doesn’t reinforce the stool. 1500 years and there was no consensus on the canon. Now you have a canon but no universal consensus on which passages belong in it. 2000 years and there is no universal consensus on what T is and isn’t or what view of T is right. And there is no universal consensus on what M has defined and what it hasn’t defined or on the proper interpretation thereof. Is Karl Rahner right? Who knows.

    And all of that is very revealing. Several RCs have at times shown their true cards by acknowledging to me that there is no consensus and that it is really hard to get an exhaustive list of beliefs but that is okay because the Roman system in principle has a way to figure all this out even if it hasn’t always exercised it in the most coherent way. Wow. That’s great. So you have a mechanism in theory. Well guess what, so do Protestants. The Holy Spirit could in theory implant in all Christians a completely accurate view of all things Christian such that all would know with infallible certainty that he has done so.

    I have been consistent – RCs need a system claiming infallibility (RCs do not need personal infallibility – please no mindmeld or regress argument again) to discern truth from opinion. Protestantism rejects such a system – thus leaving them unable to discern opinion from divine truth.

    When at the end of the day you are relying on the consensus as to what has been taught infallibly, a consensus that you adopt based on your opinion as to which group of theologians in your church has gotten it right and which not all in your church agree with in terms of your estimation, all you have is your opinion. And so you are back in the same boat.

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  33. Robert,

    “If it were really that simple, you could give me a list of everything that has been infallibly defined and an infallible explanation of the definition.”

    You do this shifting around a lot. Your initial claims above were it is “not at all clear” what is infallible and what is reformable or disciplinary; everything is hopelessly opaque. I reply it is clear what some infallible teaching is and said magisterial clarity lies along a spectrum. A spectrum entails that some infallible teaching might not be clearly marked as such – hence we have faithful theologians disagreeing on certain things and fueling the process of development and discernment, as history attests to. “Some” does not mean “All” which is what you keep arguing. No one thinks liturgical vestment colors are dogma. No one thinks the divinity of Christ is some reformable mutable teaching in RCism.

    I don’t need an exhaustive list of PCA doctrine to know what it teaches authoritatively. Is the book of order and WCF as you appealed to earlier an exhaustive enumerated list of all PCA doctrines? No. Does that therefore mean I can’t discern Joel Osteen or Roger Olsen does not hold PCA beliefs? No.

    “That’s identical to Protestantism, which shows your infallibility isn’t giving you much.”

    There are 3 issues, already pointed out above. One, T is not a parallel authority in your system. The common life, worship, teaching, faith of the PCA handed down the generations is not a parallel and coordinate authority with S in your system. If you want to appeal to that, go for it, but you would have proven the point on inconsistency and adios SS and hello ST.
    Secondly, your Protestant “consensus” is an unprincipled one. Why do only Reformed Protestants count? Since you said you use “broad-based consensus to discern opinion from divine truth” does this mean Calvinism is not divine truth because the historical and current consensus across Protestantism rejects Calvinism? Why don’t liberals or open theists or oneness pentecostals or prosperity/word-of-faith Protestants get to count? Why do only Protestants count and not RCs or EOs or early councils you reject? Your “consensus” is ad hoc.
    Thirdly, infallibility gives me irreformable teaching (a necessary characteristic of divine revelation), which doesn’t obtain in Protestantism per its claims, regardless of what “consensus” within it you construct.

    “Jesus and the Apostles are organs of revelation… M is not an organ of revelation. So we are living under a different situation.”

    And why does this matter as to the necessity of an infallible list? They were still offering infallible teaching to humans. Rome claims to offer infallible teaching to humans. You argue Rome must provide an infallible list. So why don’t Jesus and the Apostles and their successors who spread the church in NT times have to provide an infallible list?

    “No, because the council, being an organ of revelation, is self-authenticating”

    This is just hand-waving. The followers of JC still had to process and understand the teaching – they were still human and fallible and not mind-melding or trapped in an infinite regress. So what happened for them to figure out what was infallibly taught by it and what wasn’t, and how was this not “rather arbitrary” and them “using your opinion to discern what is divine truth in the M and what isn’t” as you claim is the case for post-NT councils?

    “Which injunctions?”

    Women’s head-coverings and jewelry/clothes, women and men’s hair length and style, eating blood and strangled animals. How did your church discern these teachings were mutable and contingent application of dogmatic principles vs his teachings that were dogmatic principles? Was it “rather arbitrary” and “not at all clear”?

    “once I don’t have Jesus or an Apostle to talk to, I have leaders who may or may not be protected from error.”

    So the successors of the apostles charged with spreading the church weren’t promised to be protected from error and to be submitted to? The transmission of the deposit was and is not protected from error? So the church might’ve already blown it everywhere in the 1st century in its faith and practice, let alone in the following centuries in discerning the canon. So much for consensus as an arbiter of divine truth.

    “So it should be easy to tell me when they have been protected from error and when they haven’t.”

    They were protected from error when defining Arianism and Monothelitism as heresy, affirming the Trinity and Resurrection, denying Pelagianism, affirming the Real Presence, affirming Romans is inspired, affirming the Immaculate Conception, and so on.

    “Claiming something and doing something are two different things.”

    Newman’s reference to the Swiss Bishops in his letter on the Vat1 definition is apt: “I end with an extract from the Pastoral of the Swiss Bishops, a Pastoral which has received the Pope’s approbation.
    “It in no way depends upon the caprice of the Pope, or upon his good pleasure, to make such and such a doctrine, the object of a dogmatic definition. He is tied up and limited to the divine revelation, and to the truths which that revelation contains. He is tied up and limited by the Creeds, already in existence, and by the preceding definitions of the Church.””

    “Rome claims not to reform and “change” like Protestantism does, but it is very evident that it does … Until then we’re left with Rome preserving only the words of its creeds and not the meaning originally invested in them.”

    Right, like Protestants reinventing the wheel with Nicea as Darryl lamented, or Calvin with autotheos, or Reformed pastors taking out He descended into Hell from the creed because they don’t consider it biblical, or just ignoring councils they don’t like as with Nicaea 2. That’s what you get with SS and DIY-Christianity and semper reformanda.

    “Rome essentially revokes and nullifies teachings by keeping words and interpreting them differently than those who promulgated them.”

    I guess Christ and the Apostles essentially revoked and nullified OT teachings then. Development does not entail revoking and nullifying, but deepening understanding and discernment. In Protestantism, revoking and nullifying is a perfectly valid move, and such examination in fact encouraged – reformed and always reforming.

    “Without an infallible list, you don’t know what you believe now won’t later be labeled heresy or unorthodox.”

    And the same applied to NT believers by your argument right?

    “Until you give me a list of infallible dogma, you are using your opinion to discern what is divine truth in the M and what isn’t. Which is the point you keep evading.”

    I haven’t evaded anything. I’ve disputed the premise of your charge by explaining how an infallible list is not necessary just because Rome claims infallibility any more than it was for NT believers when Christ and the Apostles claimed infallibility, nor does my lack of personal infallibility entail I am left with only opinion, which you keep presuming.

    “1500 years and there was no consensus on the canon”

    The canon defined at Trent was being read in liturgies for centuries. You think Trent’s definition was spun out of thin air? Of course not; it was informed by – surprise – Tradition.

    “Roman system in principle has a way to figure all this out even if it hasn’t always exercised it in the most coherent way.”

    It’s exercised it repeatedly. That’s why you and your forebears so easily identify dogmas you rail against. If it’s all so unclear, maybe the past 500 years of polemics and continued characterization of Rome as a false church and antiChrist should be retired – after all, since it’s so unclear what Rome actually holds as dogma – maybe you and your ilk are mistaken and being presumptuous and the Reformation should be repented of.

    “So you have a mechanism in theory.”

    No, not only in theory. It was exercised at Nicaea, at Trent, during the promulgation of Ineffabilis Deus, during reading of Scripture, during the celebration of the liturgy, during the performance of sacraments, and so on.

    “The Holy Spirit could in theory implant in all Christians a completely accurate view of all things Christian such that all would know with infallible certainty that he has done so.”

    Sure the HS could. If you want to argue that is your principled means, that’s fine – my objections go away – everyone who disagrees with you just doesn’t have the HS and you do, although it flies in the face of revelation being public which you supposedly accept. But somehow I doubt you’ll argue that.

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  34. Clete,

    You do this shifting around a lot. Your initial claims above were it is “not at all clear” what is infallible and what is reformable or disciplinary; everything is hopelessly opaque. I reply it is clear what some infallible teaching is and said magisterial clarity lies along a spectrum. A spectrum entails that some infallible teaching might not be clearly marked as such – hence we have faithful theologians disagreeing on certain things and fueling the process of development and discernment, as history attests to. “Some” does not mean “All” which is what you keep arguing. No one thinks liturgical vestment colors are dogma. No one thinks the divinity of Christ is some reformable mutable teaching in RCism.

    I don’t need an exhaustive list of PCA doctrine to know what it teaches authoritatively. Is the book of order and WCF as you appealed to earlier an exhaustive enumerated list of all PCA doctrines? No. Does that therefore mean I can’t discern Joel Osteen or Roger Olsen does not hold PCA beliefs? No.

    I’m not asking for what has been taught authoritatively. In theory, anything the Roman See teaches is taught authoritatively. I’m asking for what has been taught infallibly.

    There are 3 issues, already pointed out above. One, T is not a parallel authority in your system. The common life, worship, teaching, faith of the PCA handed down the generations is not a parallel and coordinate authority with S in your system. If you want to appeal to that, go for it, but you would have proven the point on inconsistency and adios SS and hello ST.

    It doesn’t need to be a parallel authority to be an authority.

    Secondly, your Protestant “consensus” is an unprincipled one. Why do only Reformed Protestants count? Since you said you use “broad-based consensus to discern opinion from divine truth” does this mean Calvinism is not divine truth because the historical and current consensus across Protestantism rejects Calvinism? Why don’t liberals or open theists or oneness pentecostals or prosperity/word-of-faith Protestants get to count? Why do only Protestants count and not RCs or EOs or early councils you reject? Your “consensus” is ad hoc.

    It’s no more or less principled than yours. You have to rely on consensus to know what the pope has infallibly defined and what He hasn’t. And then you have to rely only on those with whom you agree. You pick the consensus that agrees with you or that you find most agreeable, otherwise you would include the opinions of the Nancy Pelosi wing of your church, the opinions of all bishops, the opinions of those just on this side of being sedevacantists as all having equal weight in identifying what is dogma and what isn’t.

    Thirdly, infallibility gives me irreformable teaching (a necessary characteristic of divine revelation), which doesn’t obtain in Protestantism per its claims, regardless of what “consensus” within it you construct.

    If Roman doctrine were irreformable, Karl Rahner’s Trinity speculations would probably be heresy and the papacy wouldn’t be saying that the Reformation was a big misunderstanding and we all really agree on justification (per the pope’s recent remarks).

    And why does this matter as to the necessity of an infallible list? They were still offering infallible teaching to humans. Rome claims to offer infallible teaching to humans. You argue Rome must provide an infallible list. So why don’t Jesus and the Apostles and their successors who spread the church in NT times have to provide an infallible list?

    The Apostles are still around. Something needs to indicate what the deposit of faith is after they are gone because we can’t ask them anymore. Either they delivered a complete deposit or not. If they did, you should be able to give it to me. I can give it to you. In essence you are admitting that the deposit and 21st century interpretations of the deposit are identical. You can’t give me a deposit because revelation is in fact ongoing for you even if Rome formally denies it.

    This is just hand-waving. The followers of JC still had to process and understand the teaching – they were still human and fallible and not mind-melding or trapped in an infinite regress. So what happened for them to figure out what was infallibly taught by it and what wasn’t, and how was this not “rather arbitrary” and them “using your opinion to discern what is divine truth in the M and what isn’t” as you claim is the case for post-NT councils?

    Sure, and they had the words of Jesus and the Apostles. I don’t have that apart from the New Testament. So it’s self-authenticating, not to mention the fact that we have actual Apostles like Paul telling us that we can eat whatever we want. We don’t have actual Apostles telling us to stop with the women’s headcoverings.

    Women’s head-coverings and jewelry/clothes, women and men’s hair length and style, eating blood and strangled animals. How did your church discern these teachings were mutable and contingent application of dogmatic principles vs his teachings that were dogmatic principles? Was it “rather arbitrary” and “not at all clear”?

    Exegesis and trust in the Spirit and the witness of tradition and so on.

    So the successors of the apostles charged with spreading the church weren’t promised to be protected from error and to be submitted to?

    Doesn’t follow and doesn’t require that the church is infallible whenever it says it is.

    The transmission of the deposit was and is not protected from error? So the church might’ve already blown it everywhere in the 1st century in its faith and practice, let alone in the following centuries in discerning the canon. So much for consensus as an arbiter of divine truth.

    God always has a remnant, so no, at no time the church “might’ve blown it everywhere.”

    They were protected from error when defining Arianism and Monothelitism as heresy, affirming the Trinity and Resurrection, denying Pelagianism, affirming the Real Presence, affirming Romans is inspired, affirming the Immaculate Conception, and so on.

    And where is the document that says “Here are the teachings we’ve arrived at infallibly” or the one that specifically identifies which teachings were dealing with dogma and which were dealing with discipline at any of the councils dealing with the things you just mentioned? If you had that, you could produce a list of infallible teachings, but you don’t have it because all you have is a vague “Rome is infallible when teaching dogmatically” but there’s not agreement on when that has happened, as evident by liberation theology, pro-choice RC theology, CtC, Thomism, Molinism, Augustinianism, etc.

    “He is tied up and limited by the Creeds, already in existence, and by the preceding definitions of the Church.”

    If that were true, then V2 could not have happened. So I get you make the claim, but the reality of the ground is far different. V2 is not tied to Trent with respect to the status of Protestants unless you read intent into the authors of Trent that can’t be substantiated historically. The reality is what Prejean told me, and that is that the church of today is the arbiter of what Trent really meant. Hello Magisterium of the moment theology.

    Right, like Protestants reinventing the wheel with Nicea as Darryl lamented, or Calvin with autotheos, or Reformed pastors taking out He descended into Hell from the creed because they don’t consider it biblical, or just ignoring councils they don’t like as with Nicaea 2. That’s what you get with SS and DIY-Christianity and semper reformanda.

    Meanwhile your church says you don’t need to believe the Trinity to be saved (contra the Athanasian Creed and the fathers), produces eminent theologians such as Karl Rahner, and individuals such as Bellarmine who said that Calvin wasn’t wrong on the autotheos.

    I guess Christ and the Apostles essentially revoked and nullified OT teachings then. Development does not entail revoking and nullifying, but deepening understanding and discernment. In Protestantism, revoking and nullifying is a perfectly valid move, and such examination in fact encouraged – reformed and always reforming.

    So deepening understanding entails going from “whosoever will be saved must believe the Holy Trinity” in the Athanasian Creed to the Pope praying alongside Unitarian Muslims? You all really need to apologize to the Arians.

    And the same applied to NT believers by your argument right?

    NT believers had the Apostles with them and their writings after they died.

    I haven’t evaded anything. I’ve disputed the premise of your charge by explaining how an infallible list is not necessary just because Rome claims infallibility any more than it was for NT believers when Christ and the Apostles claimed infallibility, nor does my lack of personal infallibility entail I am left with only opinion, which you keep presuming.

    Sure it entails only your opinion, otherwise there would be no division in Romanism. You give me no “principled reason” to follow what you discern as consensus from what Pelosi discerns as consensus besides that you read tradition and history and Scripture and come to the conclusion that it is on the side that you affirm. The Magisterium hasn’t blessed CVDs interpretation of itself. Welcome to the real world.

    The canon defined at Trent was being read in liturgies for centuries. You think Trent’s definition was spun out of thin air? Of course not; it was informed by – surprise – Tradition.

    So every liturgy in every century up until Trent included readings from every book included at Trent and no others? Sure it’s informed by tradition, but tradition was not monolithic. Thus you had RCs who didn’t want the apocrypha included.

    So you had no dogmatic definition and not clear position in the tradition on what should be in the canon. You have certain practices that might inform the final decision, but disagreement and thus no “principled means” to know if 1 Maccabees was Scripture or not until Trent. No way to discern what divine revelation was, at least with respect to Scripture. And yet the broad agreement was good enough to function as an authority then but it’s not good enough for Protestants now. Double standard.

    It’s exercised it repeatedly. That’s why you and your forebears so easily identify dogmas you rail against. If it’s all so unclear, maybe the past 500 years of polemics and continued characterization of Rome as a false church and antiChrist should be retired – after all, since it’s so unclear what Rome actually holds as dogma – maybe you and your ilk are mistaken and being presumptuous and the Reformation should be repented of.

    It’s relatively clear what Trent taught. It’s unclear as to the degree to which V2 and later actually teach the same thing. When the CCC says that it affirms Trent and Pope Francis says that Protestants and RCs no longer disagree, who am I to believe. I would think it should be Francis.

    No, not only in theory. It was exercised at Nicaea, at Trent, during the promulgation of Ineffabilis Deus, during reading of Scripture, during the celebration of the liturgy, during the performance of sacraments, and so on.

    So you can easily give me a list of exactly what at Nicea is dogma and what is discipline, and at Trent, and in your priest’s homily, etc.

    Sure the HS could. If you want to argue that is your principled means, that’s fine – my objections go away – everyone who disagrees with you just doesn’t have the HS and you do, although it flies in the face of revelation being public which you supposedly accept. But somehow I doubt you’ll argue that.

    But ultimately, this is what everyone boils their claim down to. The East disagrees with you on the papacy, so at that point the East must not be listening to the Spirit. Why? Because clearly they don’t have the fullness of the Spirit that Rome does. And that flies in the face of revelation being public, particularly since the papacy is not at all clear in Scripture or tradition.

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  35. CVD: I haven’t evaded anything. I’ve disputed the premise of your charge by explaining how an infallible list is not necessary just because Rome claims infallibility any more than it was for NT believers when Christ and the Apostles claimed infallibility, nor does my lack of personal infallibility entail I am left with only opinion, which you keep presuming.

    Let’s not use the word “evade”, since I don’t know that you are evading. What I do know is that you’ve been presented with a clear logical argument — let’s call it the Chain of Evidence Argument — that shows that to know X with certainty, you must not only have an infallible authority in whom you trust, but you must also have an infallible chain of evidence that shows that the authority actually does teach X.

    If you don’t have infallible certainty that your authority teaches X, then you cannot claim certainty about X, because there is always the possibility that you may be wrong in believing that the authority teaches X.

    (And that’s the problem at the level of just the lexical form “X.” If you want to assert further that you have certainty about what X means, then you must also have infallible understanding. Otherwise, you have certainty about a bunch of forms that may or may not be comprehensible to you. Our years-long running debate hasn’t really opened up that front yet, but it’s waiting in the wings…)

    This is not a hard argument to understand: If there is a possibility that you are mistaken in believing that an infallible authority teaches X, then there is a possibility that X is wrong. Hence, there is a possibility that you are in error to believe X.

    Are you evading this argument? You’ve never refuted it, other that to say “I don’t have to be infallible”, which is a Proof by Vehement Assertion. You haven’t really engaged it formally.

    It could be evasion. Or it could be that you just don’t really understand the argument because you have convinced yourself a priori that the argument is mistaken, thus not worthy of your time. Or it could be that you have some refutation in mind that you haven’t yet shared.

    So engage. Explain clearly how you can have certainty without possibility of error that “Jesus is divine” without having infallible certainty that the Church actually teaches “Jesus is divine” as an infallible dogma. Tell us how you can escape the problems of the Chain of Evidence.

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  36. James Young, and what did tradition have to say about religious freedom at Vatican II? Good thing for John Courtney Murray, the bishops silenced tradition.

    Funny how the tradition light goes on and off, sort of like the one indicating infallibility (except both are always on when gullible evangelicals are looking in).

    Like

  37. Robert,

    “I’m asking for what has been taught infallibly.”

    And this has been answered with multiple examples. Just as you could answer a request for what PCA teaches authoritatively with multiple examples despite not having nor providing me an authoritative exhaustive list of all authoritative teachings of the PCA.

    “It doesn’t need to be a parallel authority to be an authority.”

    Right, so you saw off the tree branch you sit on. You acknowledge above you use consensus to discern divine truth from opinion – including your canon and other fundamentals such as inerrancy, revelation closing, sufficiency, etc. – then turn around and hold that same consensus subject and inferior to those fundamentals the consensus gave you in the first place.

    “You pick the consensus that agrees with you or that you find most agreeable, otherwise you would include the opinions of the Nancy Pelosi wing of your church”

    I rely on STM-triad – M is an arbiter. As Benedict wrote, “It is certainly not a kind of public ecclesial opinion, and invoking it in order to contest the teachings of the Magisterium would be unthinkable, since the sensus fidei cannot be authentically developed in believers, except to the extent in which they fully participate in the life of the Church, and this demands responsible adherence to the Magisterium, to the deposit of faith”.

    “Karl Rahner’s Trinity speculations”

    Speculations are not dogma.

    “papacy wouldn’t be saying that the Reformation was a big misunderstanding and we all really agree on justification”

    ECT and JDDJ never said we agree on everything. It said there were some commonalities that could help bridge the divide and encouraged further exploration, while also calling out the strong differences that remain. Nothing in that approach revokes or nullifies Trent’s dogmas.

    “Something needs to indicate what the deposit of faith is after they are gone because we can’t ask them anymore”

    This doesn’t answer the question. The Apostles and Christ communicated infallible dogma to fallible humans even as they did not provide an infallible list of dogma in doing so. This is impossible per your argument.

    “Either they delivered a complete deposit or not. If they did, you should be able to give it to me. I can give it to you. ”

    Okay – give it. If you just say, S, then I’d like a complete exhaustive list of every verse and passage comprising S. Then you can pass that on to all the textual critics and they can retire and all the churches can give up debates on disputed passages.

    “You can’t give me a deposit because revelation is in fact ongoing for you even if Rome formally denies it.”

    The deposit is contained in ST, which M safeguards. That should satisfy you, considering if I ask you to give me the deposit, you’ll say S.

    “Sure, and they had the words of Jesus and the Apostles”

    But they didn’t have an infallible list. So they were stuck with a “rather arbitrary” way of discerning divine truth from opinion per your argument.

    “I don’t have that apart from the New Testament. So it’s self-authenticating”

    It’s self-authenticating and yet you above said you use “broad-based consensus” to discern divine truth from opinion in discerning the Protestant canon.

    “We don’t have actual Apostles telling us to stop with the women’s headcoverings.”

    So your churches should forbid women from not wearing headcoverings. Since distinctions between dogmatic principles and prudential/contingent application of those principles is apparently disingenuous and so murky and difficult a concept.

    “God always has a remnant, so no, at no time the church “might’ve blown it everywhere.”

    God always has a remnant based on what you accept as Scripture – which you got from “broad-based consensus” – but since that consensus is not divinely protected from error, nor is the transmission of the deposit in the post-apostolic age according to you, what you’re appealing to in order to argue against blowing it could just as well have been a consequence of the church actually blowing it and we’re back where we started. Just as above with T, you’re sawing the branch you sit on.

    “You all really need to apologize to the Arians.”

    Arianism is still error and heresy. Always will be, even if someone with defective beliefs or understandings of the Trinity may still be saved due to culpability. The same can never be said in Protesntatism – every offered teaching is asterisked per its disclaimers to authority/ability.

    “NT believers had the Apostles with them and their writings after they died.”

    Doesn’t answser the question – as you said, “Without an infallible list, you don’t know what you believe now won’t later be labeled heresy or unorthodox.” So how did the NT believers live without an infallible list you demand of Rome?

    “Sure it entails only your opinion, otherwise there would be no division in Romanism.”

    There was division in the NT church. So by your argument, NT believers in the “real world” were left with only their opinion when Christ and the Apostles taught infallibly because, after all, they were just fallible humans not mind-melding with Christ and the Apostles. We’re back to Christ and the Apostles being no different than some random Jewish rabbi.

    “you had RCs who didn’t want the apocrypha included.”

    Sure. We also had RCs that argued against Trent’s definitions on justification, and against Vat1’s definition, and so on. That’s why M is a necessary leg of the stool.

    “It’s relatively clear what Trent taught. It’s unclear as to the degree to which V2 and later actually teach the same thing. ”

    So it’s unclear whether the V2 church teaches the following: justification by infusion, merit, loss of salvation, venial/mortal sin, purgatory, baptismal regeneration, sufficient grace for all, etc? Come now. Remember, “it’s not at all clear what has been declared infallible and what hasn’t” so really your side should be far more cautious and exercise more humility in accusing Rome as a false church and antiChrist – maybe you’re just tilting at windmills for 500 years.

    “But ultimately, this is what everyone boils their claim down to. ”

    No, Christian faith claims do not boil down to Mormon bosom burning.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. And this has been answered with multiple examples. Just as you could answer a request for what PCA teaches authoritatively with multiple examples despite not having nor providing me an authoritative exhaustive list of all authoritative teachings of the PCA.

    No, I want the full gamut of what has been taught infallibly up till now by the magisterium. Authoritatively doesn’t equal infallibly

    Right, so you saw off the tree branch you sit on. You acknowledge above you use consensus to discern divine truth from opinion – including your canon and other fundamentals such as inerrancy, revelation closing, sufficiency, etc. – then turn around and hold that same consensus subject and inferior to those fundamentals the consensus gave you in the first place.

    Uh no. Consensus is a helpful secondary means, but ultimately it is the confirmation of the Holy Spirit Himself that provides the “principled means” to discern truth from opinion.

    I rely on STM-triad – M is an arbiter. As Benedict wrote, “It is certainly not a kind of public ecclesial opinion, and invoking it in order to contest the teachings of the Magisterium would be unthinkable, since the sensus fidei cannot be authentically developed in believers, except to the extent in which they fully participate in the life of the Church, and this demands responsible adherence to the Magisterium, to the deposit of faith”.

    If you relied on the triad, you’d have a different OT canon because the S and the T simply don’t support yours. You rely on the M as your final, infallible rule of faith.

    ECT and JDDJ never said we agree on everything. It said there were some commonalities that could help bridge the divide and encouraged further exploration, while also calling out the strong differences that remain. Nothing in that approach revokes or nullifies Trent’s dogmas.

    In recent days, your pope has suggested that we aren’t divided anymore. He’s wrong, but he’s not my authority.

    This doesn’t answer the question. The Apostles and Christ communicated infallible dogma to fallible humans even as they did not provide an infallible list of dogma in doing so. This is impossible per your argument.

    No its not because I could ask the Apostles and Christ. The Magisterium isn’t the Apostles and Christ. That’s the problem. You selectively want to act like they are. “Sure you can ask them just like you can ask the Apostles and Christ, but they aren’t the Apostles and Christ.”

    Okay – give it. If you just say, S, then I’d like a complete exhaustive list of every verse and passage comprising S. Then you can pass that on to all the textual critics and they can retire and all the churches can give up debates on disputed passages.

    I can give you the deposit—the 66 books of the canon. I’ll even go you one more for the sake of argument and give you the 66 books minus any textual variants. There’s my at least one infallible statement that supposedly I don’t have but which is the criteria that makes Rome better for you.

    The deposit is contained in ST, which M safeguards. That should satisfy you, considering if I ask you to give me the deposit, you’ll say S.

    I just gave you the S. Now give me the T.

    But they didn’t have an infallible list. So they were stuck with a “rather arbitrary” way of discerning divine truth from opinion per your argument.

    They had Jesus and the Apostles. Neither you nor I have that except in the canon.

    It’s self-authenticating and yet you above said you use “broad-based consensus” to discern divine truth from opinion in discerning the Protestant canon.

    Because self-authentication isn’t Mormon bosom burning no matter how much you think it is.

    So your churches should forbid women from not wearing headcoverings. Since distinctions between dogmatic principles and prudential/contingent application of those principles is apparently disingenuous and so murky and difficult a concept.

    If it’s not so difficult for you and your having to interpret Rome, it’s not for me and other Protestants. The issue is the double standard. For the most part, I don’t think it’s that hard to figure out what Rome has traditionally taught. The problem is twofold—you think that somehow gives you an advantage when Protestants can do the exact same same thing. And 2, modern Roman Catholicism doesn’t really look like traditional Roman Catholicism. You, my friend, are the minority. You have a liberal pope and a liberal Magisterium. I feel bad for you, I really do. I’d feel worse for you if you’d actually admit the problems your church is in doctrinally in relation to what came before.

    God always has a remnant based on what you accept as Scripture – which you got from “broad-based consensus” – but since that consensus is not divinely protected from error, nor is the transmission of the deposit in the post-apostolic age according to you, what you’re appealing to in order to argue against blowing it could just as well have been a consequence of the church actually blowing it and we’re back where we started. Just as above with T, you’re sawing the branch you sit on.

    Total miscontrual of what I and others have said.

    Arianism is still error and heresy. Always will be, even if someone with defective beliefs or understandings of the Trinity may still be saved due to culpability. The same can never be said in Protestantism – every offered teaching is asterisked per its disclaimers to authority/ability.

    According to the Athanasian Creed, those who deny the deity of Christ cannot be saved. Now I realize Rome no longer believes that, calling into question what it really thinks about Arianism, but the creed says what it says.

    Doesn’t answser the question – as you said, “Without an infallible list, you don’t know what you believe now won’t later be labeled heresy or unorthodox.” So how did the NT believers live without an infallible list you demand of Rome?

    Because the NT believers had living organs of revelation who could tell them what was orthodox and what wasn’t. I don’t have that in Rome. Rome can’t provide the list. You’ve admitted as much. Tradition is just too big to codify. Hence implicit faith.

    There was division in the NT church. So by your argument, NT believers in the “real world” were left with only their opinion when Christ and the Apostles taught infallibly because, after all, they were just fallible humans not mind-melding with Christ and the Apostles. We’re back to Christ and the Apostles being no different than some random Jewish rabbi.

    If you want to equate the Magisterium with Christ and Apostles, you would at least be consistent. But since you don’t want to do that except in rare instances, a list of which we don’t have and in fact can’t have, you’re in a pickle.

    Sure. We also had RCs that argued against Trent’s definitions on justification, and against Vat1’s definition, and so on. That’s why M is a necessary leg of the stool.

    And thus, M is the rule of faith because M tells you what is right in tradition and what isn’t.

    So it’s unclear whether the V2 church teaches the following: justification by infusion, merit, loss of salvation, venial/mortal sin, purgatory, baptismal regeneration, sufficient grace for all, etc? Come now. Remember, “it’s not at all clear what has been declared infallible and what hasn’t” so really your side should be far more cautious and exercise more humility in accusing Rome as a false church and antiChrist – maybe you’re just tilting at windmills for 500 years.

    V2 affirms much, if not all of that formally. But in reality accepts Protestants as orthodox. That’s the facts. Nobody is trying to make converts of Protestants except for a few, unofficial conservative RC outfits like CtC. Pope Francis. He doesn’t care. Rome would like some formal ecclesiastical unity, but as far as telling us our theology is wrong? Not anymore. Really the only thing Rome is bothered with us nowadays is our refusal to acknowledge the pope as head of the church.

    Modern Rome, in fact, is little more than a Christianized version of moralistic therapeutic deism. Just see Pope Francis. We have to latch onto traditional Romanism as defined by Trent, which Rome has admittedly never officially denied. But of course official endorsement of it as the divinely revealed truth that admits no other views is very, very hard to find these days. And so Francis suggests we really don’t disagree anymore.

    No, Christian faith claims do not boil down to Mormon bosom burning.

    That is correct. And self-authentication isn’t Mormon bosom burning. But any “assurance” you have is a subjective reality. It’s not divorced from objective criteria like Mormonism is, but it is no less and no more subjective than Protestant conviction.

    In other words, Christian faith claims are also not airtight, logical proofs even if logic plays a role in demonstrating the coherence of Christianity.

    Somebody needs to tell Bryan Cross that. Maybe he’ll listen to you.

    Like

  39. Cletus,

    You really need to deal with Jeff on this post than reply to mine. We’re waiting:

    Let’s not use the word “evade”, since I don’t know that you are evading. What I do know is that you’ve been presented with a clear logical argument — let’s call it the Chain of Evidence Argument — that shows that to know X with certainty, you must not only have an infallible authority in whom you trust, but you must also have an infallible chain of evidence that shows that the authority actually does teach X.

    If you don’t have infallible certainty that your authority teaches X, then you cannot claim certainty about X, because there is always the possibility that you may be wrong in believing that the authority teaches X.

    (And that’s the problem at the level of just the lexical form “X.” If you want to assert further that you have certainty about what X means, then you must also have infallible understanding. Otherwise, you have certainty about a bunch of forms that may or may not be comprehensible to you. Our years-long running debate hasn’t really opened up that front yet, but it’s waiting in the wings…)

    This is not a hard argument to understand: If there is a possibility that you are mistaken in believing that an infallible authority teaches X, then there is a possibility that X is wrong. Hence, there is a possibility that you are in error to believe X.

    Are you evading this argument? You’ve never refuted it, other that to say “I don’t have to be infallible”, which is a Proof by Vehement Assertion. You haven’t really engaged it formally.

    It could be evasion. Or it could be that you just don’t really understand the argument because you have convinced yourself a priori that the argument is mistaken, thus not worthy of your time. Or it could be that you have some refutation in mind that you haven’t yet shared.

    So engage. Explain clearly how you can have certainty without possibility of error that “Jesus is divine” without having infallible certainty that the Church actually teaches “Jesus is divine” as an infallible dogma. Tell us how you can escape the problems of the Chain of Evidence.

    Like

  40. Robert,

    “No, I want the full gamut of what has been taught infallibly up till now by the magisterium. Authoritatively doesn’t equal infallibly”

    Okay I would like the full gamut of what has been taught authoritatively up till now by the PCA.

    “Consensus is a helpful secondary means”

    So you use consensus to discern divine truth from opinion (“Protestants can happily rely on a broad-based consensus to discern opinion from divine truth”) but that consensus can be in error. And the consensus you appeal to is itself a matter of opinion. So you keep going in self-defeating circles.

    “No its not because I could ask the Apostles and Christ…. They had Jesus and the Apostles… Because the NT believers had living organs of revelation who could tell them what was orthodox and what wasn’t.”

    Great – so the infallible list of infallible dogma is not a requirement for an authority claiming infallibility. So Rome’s claims to go through despite your demand. Adios to your list argument and “arbitrary way of figuring out what is infallibly taught” and so forth.

    “The Magisterium isn’t the Apostles and Christ. That’s the problem.”

    That’s not the problem – both M and Christ/Apostles offer infallible teaching. The problem is your faulty argument that any infallibility is useless or impossible or reduces to a matter of opinion if an infallible list cannot be provided. NT witness disproves that, as you agree. So we can move on.

    “I can give you the deposit—the 66 books of the canon. I’ll even go you one more for the sake of argument and give you the 66 books minus any textual variants.”

    Right – so I need an exhaustive list of all the verses and passages in the 66 books. If you can’t provide such a list, you can’t give me the deposit, per your own argument. So go ahead and put the entire textual criticism field in the dustheap and resolve all the debates in one fell swoop.

    “I just gave you the S.”

    No, you didn’t – you avoided the explicit point I made – you essentially just said “everything the apostles wrote” – that’s an inadequate reply, per your own argument and demand for a list. Or, you can be consistent and accept “everything the apostles taught” from me.

    “If it’s not so difficult for you and your having to interpret Rome, it’s not for me and other Protestants.”

    I agree. You don’t – “it’s not at all clear what has been declared infallible and what hasn’t” and “It’s not at all clear which of the Magisterium’s teachings are prudential judgments and which are not”.

    “Total miscontrual of what I and others have said.”

    Feel free to offer the corrective. Thus far I see inconsistency and circles.

    “If you want to equate the Magisterium with Christ and Apostles, you would at least be consistent. ”

    No, I merely want to point out your demand for an infallible list for an infallible authority to work is off the mark, as you agree was the case with NT believers. So be consistent now and we can move on.

    “And thus, M is the rule of faith because M tells you what is right in tradition and what isn’t.”

    That doesn’t follow. Were Scripture and Tradition not part of the rule of faith in NT times because Christ and the Apostles told followers what is right and what isn’t in both spheres? As you said, “I don’t reject T or M during the Apostolic era.”

    “V2 affirms much, if not all of that formally”

    No, that can’t be right – “it’s not at all clear what has been declared infallible and what hasn’t” and “It’s not at all clear which of the Magisterium’s teachings are prudential judgments and which are not”.

    “You really need to deal with Jeff on this post than reply to mine. We’re waiting:”

    Apply Jeff’s argument to fallible non-mind melding NT believers under Christ and the Apostles. Then connect the dots.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. James Young, “Apply Jeff’s argument to fallible non-mind melding NT believers under Christ and the Apostles. Then connect the dots.”

    And watch encyclicals become canonical. Deuterocanonical? Why debate when you have ongoing revelation?

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  42. Jeff,

    Were NT believers personally fallible? Yes. Did they mindmeld with Christ and the Apostles? No. Does that mean Christ and the Apostles were therefore no different than a random Jewish rabbi who made explicit disclaimers to the type of authority/ability Christ and the Apostles claimed? No. Relatedly, does that mean everything Christ and the Apostles offered remained potentially reformable? No.

    Are RCs personally fallible? Yes. Do they mindmeld with the Magisterium? No. Does that mean Rome is therefore no different than any random Protestant denomination who makes explicit disclaimers to the type of authority/ability that Rome claims? No. Relatedly, does that mean everything Rome offers remains potentially reformable? No. Does that mean everything Protestantism offers remains potentially reformable? Yes, as we saw earlier:

    “CVD: Further, can you give me an irreformable doctrine then?
    JRC: It’s hard to answer your question
    CVD: Everything is and remains provisional. That’s not a “problem” for you. That’s fine, but it’s a stunning admission.
    JRC: Stunning? Our “side” admitted that in 1647 at the latest. Where have you been, my man?”

    Darryl,

    Jeff’s question has nothing to do with the question of ongoing revelation – it merely has to do with infallibility, full stop. So your reply, echoing Robert’s, misses the mark.

    Like

  43. James,

    So you use consensus to discern divine truth from opinion (“Protestants can happily rely on a broad-based consensus to discern opinion from divine truth”) but that consensus can be in error. And the consensus you appeal to is itself a matter of opinion. So you keep going in self-defeating circles.

    My use of consensus is in no way different than yours or Bryan’s use of consensus. Like you, I have to rely on the consensus of a select group fallible historians and theologians and pastors and laypeople to figure out an infallible deposit. And that, at the end of the day, is the point of the whole conversation. Which is what makes the CtC argument an absolutely inane one that is covered with garbs of high-sounding philosophy. Your consensus isn’t the same as Karl Rahner’s, isn’t the same as the Jesuits isn’t the same as Pope Francis’s. You do the best you can with the information you have and trust finally in your own interpretation of it, which is fallible. Your fallible opinion stands between you and the infallible deposit, so if an infallible arbiter is necessary to determine revelation, you don’t have it either. But I’m not making the claim that an infallible arbiter must stand between me and the deposit to know what is deposit and what isn’t. All I need is the deposit and the Holy Spirit, who promises to work through His church but never ever says it is granted a gift of infallibility whenever the church says so.

    As I’ve said ad nauseum, CtC creates a conundrum where none exists but then doesn’t provide a solution. If first-century BC Jews didn’t need an infallible statement from the book of Genesis or from an infallible Magisterium telling the that Genesis is part of the deposit, there’s no reason why I need one. In fact, I need one even less.

    Peter didn’t need Jesus to say “I’m infallible, follow me” to discern that Jesus was infallible and that Jesus was giving dogma. But according to you and Bryan, Peter and all the first disciples had to be mere fideists who only had their opinion when they immediately heard the voice of Jesus and followed. Until Jesus made an explicit claim of infallibility for Himself, they had no good reason to follow Him. If you want to put forth an argument that makes following Jesus a take it or leave proposition, that’s your problem to solve, not mine.

    Like

  44. Cletus,

    Focus. There is a non-zero probability that Rome actually claims to be fallible. It might be infinitesimally small, but it’s there. That’s the point. You are throwing all your eggs into a basket that, unless you are infallible, isn’t absolutely leak proof.

    Cletus: “I fallibly know that we have an infallible Magisterium that arbitrates a non-self-attesting and ultimately non-self-arbitrating infallible deposit”
    Robert: “I fallibly know that I have a self-attesting and ultimately self-arbitrating infallible deposit”

    And you have a principled means but I don’t? That’s where your argument doesn’t follow.

    And your argument destroys any grounds for religious certainty unless you talk directly to the Magisterium. So when the Ethiopian Eunuch preached the gospel and people believed, they couldn’t believe with the certainty of faith and had no principled means to know if the Eunuch was right or if they just thought he was right. When a RC lay evangelist speaks to a non-believer and the non-believer trust in Christ based on the lay evangelist’s fallible presentation of infallible truth, that non-believer did something fideistic and didn’t have the certainty of faith.

    And on it goes. You are giving an argument that ultimately undermines your church itself and its ability to proclaim the gospel.

    Like

  45. @ Cletus: Still not a response. I’m sorry to have such a pain, but you are not answering the question, which is not a “yes or no” question, but a “how” question.

    Take any proposition X that you believe the church teaches. If you do not have an infallible chain of evidence that gives you infallible knowledge that the church teaches X, how do you know without doubt that X is true?

    Rhetorical questions will not do.

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  46. James Young, it does have something to do with ongoing revelation because only revelation is infallible (and you can’t tell the difference between fallible and infallible pope’s words without non-popes telling you).

    But because Rome claims infallibility, you’re impressed. How did you do with Communism? Heaven on earth?

    Like

  47. Jeff, “Take any proposition X that you believe the church teaches. If you do not have an infallible chain of evidence that gives you infallible knowledge that the church teaches X, how do you know without doubt that X is true?”

    That’s easy. Because James Young believes in infallibility, statement is infallible.

    Like

  48. Jeff,

    You’re in NT times. You come across Christ and the Apostles and one of their followers. You ask the follower, “Take any proposition X that you believe Christ and the Apostles you’re following teaches. If you do not have an infallible chain of evidence that gives you infallible knowledge that they teach X, how do you know without doubt that X is true?”

    Is the NT follower of Christ and the Apostles in a different position than the NT follower of some random Jewish rabbi disclaiming the type of authority/ability Christ and the Apostles make? Both followers are personally fallible. Does that simple fact of being human mean Christ and the Apostles only did and only could offer reformable and potentially in error teaching as the NT rabbi admits he offers? No. That’s the point – not the submitting agent’s personal fallibility in either case. If NT believers weren’t mindmelding with Christ and the Apostles, there is no need for RC believers now to mindmeld with the Magisterium for infallibility to work. Tell me how your argument and line of questioning:
    1. Does not entail NT believers had to mindmeld with Christ/Apostles to know irreformable teaching
    2. Does not make Christ/Apostles claims to infallible authority and ability useless, impossible, or unnecessary
    3. Does not entail Christ/Apostles could only offer reformable and provisional teachings
    4. Does not make Christ/Apostles any different than some random NT rabbi.

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  49. Cletus,

    Does that simple fact of being human mean Christ and the Apostles only did and only could offer reformable and potentially in error teaching as the NT rabbi admits he offers?

    How do you know with certainty that Rome offers infallible teaching at all? Because you interpret Rome as saying X. Nancy Pelosi interprets Rome as saying Y. Who is correct and how do I know which is correct without my fallible mind coming between Rome and me?

    Like

  50. Robert,

    So NT followers had no certainty that Christ and the Apostles offered infallible teaching at all correct? Christ and the Apostles were no different than a random rabbi. No wonder NT-era Darryl wouldn’t have been impressed with such claims and shrugged them off.

    Like

  51. @ Cletus,

    Your questions are interesting, and I’m happy to discuss them at a future time.

    But they are not answers to my question.

    If you do not have an infallible chain of evidence showing that the church teaches X, how can you know without doubt that X is true?

    At this point, seeing that you have not answered a simple question posed three times, it’s beginning to look as though the question makes you uncomfortable.

    Please answer directly and explain how this is possible. Then we can talk about where that line of reasoning leads.

    Like

  52. Cletus,

    The fundamental problem I see is that you leave out a role for the individual, subjective confirmation of the Holy Spirit as seen in your continual confusion of self-attestation with bosom burning.

    1. Does not entail NT believers had to mindmeld with Christ/Apostles to know irreformable teaching

    Because NT believers had the Holy Spirit, just like us.

    2. Does not make Christ/Apostles claims to infallible authority and ability useless, impossible, or unnecessary

    Christ/Apostles didn’t make useless, impossible, or unnecessary claims. They’re inspired. And in any case, their claim is not “we must be infallible because otherwise you have no principled means to distinguish opinion from divine revelation”

    Our objection is not so much that Rome’s claims, if true, are useless. They would be useful if they were true. Our claim is also not that it is logically impossible for Rome to be infallible (it’s the actual historical record that makes us object). But the assertion we make is that Rome’s claims are unnecessary to figure out what is revelation and what isn’t. As seen, for example, in Jesus expecting first century Jews to receive as canonical books of the Bible that never claim inspiration for themselves.

    3. Does not entail Christ/Apostles could only offer reformable and provisional teachings

    But this is silly. How do you know which of Rome’s teachings are fallible and which aren’t since there is a non-zero possibility that you could be wrong in any given instance. We have an answer, the confirmation/illumination of the Holy Spirit, but you don’t like that answer. What is your alternative besides the collection of particular conservative RCs that you happen to think is right.

    4. Does not make Christ/Apostles any different than some random NT rabbi.

    The question really is how does adding an infallible interpreter that you fallibly interpret make you better off than me fallibly interpreting the deposit. You keep ranting that it’s not about our fallibility, but the whole CtC argument is premised on the fact that fallibility is what gets us in the pickle of needing an infallible interpreter in the first place. So solve MY individual epistemological problem. How do I overcome my fallibility because that is really what you are trusting Rome to do for you. But Rome doesn’t over come your fallibility. And the HS subjective work of illumination is out. So what is it? Non-self-attesting motives of credibility that are credible only if you accept Rome’s suggestion first that such things are proofs, since its not self-evident that holiness, miracles, or anything else would prove Rome over any other religion that make similar claims? And that’s not circular?

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  53. Clete,

    So NT followers had no certainty that Christ and the Apostles offered infallible teaching at all correct?

    Sure they did, but it wasn’t simply because they claimed infallibility. The Holy Spirit confirms. That’s the final answer in any Christian system. It has to be. Otherwise we start veering off into Pelagianism.

    The claim wasn’t necessary for a first century Jew to know the book of Genesis was the Word of God, so why is it necessary for me today?

    But I’d most like to see your answer to Jeff’s questions.

    Like

  54. Jeff,

    The same way NT believers did. Which is what my questions which you find very interesting are meant to tease out. I don’t have to escape my personal fallibility or become non-human for Rome’s claims to matter or exercise in operation, any more than NT believers did, nor do I need to escape my personal fallibility to know without a doubt that bats don’t naturally generate and fly out of noses and cows don’t naturally jump over moons. If an argument undermines your own position, it’s not worth exploring. I think your argument undermines your position, just as Robert’s list argument undermined his. Presumably, you disagree.

    Liked by 1 person

  55. Clete,

    Then I don’t need an infallible interpreter to know without a doubt that the Trinity is true, that Genesis is Scripture, or anything else. I just need the revelation itself. Just like NT believers.

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  56. Cletus: The same way that new testament believers did.

    That is also not an answer, since it is not a fact in evidence that new testament believers had knowledge without any doubt, nor (if they did) would it explain how.

    So again: How?

    Like

  57. Robert,

    “My use of consensus is in no way different than yours or Bryan’s use of consensus.”

    It’s very different in at least 2 ways. Tradition is not a parallel authority in your system, and M is an arbiter of “consensus” (e.g. Arian crisis). In your system, “consensus” is just ad hoc and picked out from an ever-shifting sea of admitted opinion, pick what you like, no guarantee what you pick is protected from error, and so on – it’s a rootless anchor.

    “figure out an infallible deposit. ”

    None of the sources you consult claim to be able to infallibly identify the deposit.

    “Your fallible opinion stands between you and the infallible deposit”

    So NT believers were stuck with their fallible opinion when hearing Christ and the Apostles.

    “All I need is the deposit ”

    Which can never be identified or interpreted irreformably in your system.

    “the Holy Spirit, who promises to work through His church ”

    Which you discerned from the “broad-based consensus” with the canon, a consensus which by your own claims and acknowledgement could be in error and have blown it.

    “Peter and all the first disciples had to be mere fideists who only had their opinion when they immediately heard the voice of Jesus and followed.”

    Once again, Jesus’ claims to authority/ability are useless and unnecessary in your system.

    “Until Jesus made an explicit claim of infallibility for Himself, they had no good reason to follow Him”

    So Jesus didn’t appeal to his divine authority and nature to his hearers to have them follow? You must have a different NT – it was kind of a big part of His ministry.

    “you leave out a role for the individual, subjective confirmation of the Holy Spirit ”

    That would be a surprise since RCism teaches the opposite.

    “Because NT believers had the Holy Spirit, just like us.”

    So you do know irreformable teaching. And yet nothing Protestantism offers is offered as irreformable. WCF disclaimers. Semper reformanda. Ad fontes. Reformed and always reforming.
    Do open theist, prosperity/word of faith, arian, RC, Mormon, EO, anti-Calvinist, or abortion/ssm churches have the holy spirit just like you? Are you convinced when they say they do?

    “Christ/Apostles didn’t make useless, impossible, or unnecessary claims.”

    Excellent. So they made and operated on those claims, yet also didn’t produce infallible lists nor mindmeld with their followers and make them personally infallible. So we can drop those arguments and move on to something else.

    “How do you know which of Rome’s teachings are fallible and which aren’t since there is a non-zero possibility that you could be wrong in any given instance. We have an answer, the confirmation/illumination of the Holy Spirit, but you don’t like that answer.”

    So the Apostles intervening or things like the council of Jerusalem actually were useless after all in making irreformable binding judgments when followers were divided – or maybe all those followers should’ve just shouted at each other they have the holy spirit and lived in perpetual stalemate. Guess we can’t move on after all.

    “The question really is how does adding an infallible interpreter that you fallibly interpret make you better off than me fallibly interpreting the deposit.”

    Jumped the gun. The identification of the deposit, let alone its nature, is not offered infallibly in your system. Remember the “broad-based consensus” that by your lights can blow it.

    “How do I overcome my fallibility because that is really what you are trusting Rome to do for you. But Rome doesn’t over come your fallibility. ”

    Nor did Christ and the Apostles. Their followers were still fallible. Christ and the Apostles didn’t offer admittedly provisional teachings. Nor does Rome. Protestantism does. Thus the contrast between RC and Protestant claims. Personal fallibility is not the issue.

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  58. Clete,

    Tradition is not a parallel authority in your system, and M is an arbiter of “consensus” (e.g. Arian crisis).

    Sorry, that’s irrelevant. To figure out what M has arbitrated and what Tradition actually is, you rely on the consensus of a particular group of theologians, priests, etc. that is not the same consensus that Nancy Pelosi uses, that’s not the same consensus that Mother Teresa uses, et al. So yes, you use “consensus” in the exact same way I do. You have to because you don’t have a list of consensus infallibly defined, and even if you did, you would only get there by picking a particular consensus to follow.

    None of the sources you consult claim to be able to infallibly identify the deposit.

    Yeah, although I don’t like the specific terminology because it can be misleading, it’s a fallible identification of the infallible deposit. Just like you’ve fallibly identified the infallible deposit because you’ve fallibly identified the church.

    So NT believers were stuck with their fallible opinion when hearing Christ and the Apostles.

    We’re all “stuck” with our fallible opinion until we become personally infallible.

    Which can never be identified or interpreted irreformably in your system.

    Where has Rome irreformable identified the infallible deposit. I keep asking for you to give it to me, but you say it can’t be done. So it can’t happen for you either I guess.

    Which you discerned from the “broad-based consensus” with the canon, a consensus which by your own claims and acknowledgement could be in error and have blown it.

    Once again, Jesus’ claims to authority/ability are useless and unnecessary in your system.

    No, my point is that lots of people followed Jesus before he ever made such a claim. And if you are right, they had no justification until he made the claim. So Peter had no justification to drop his nets and follow Jesus when he heard “follow me” because Jesus at that point didn’t say “I’m infallible and have authority, follow me.”

    So Jesus didn’t appeal to his divine authority and nature to his hearers to have them follow? You must have a different NT – it was kind of a big part of His ministry.

    According to the Gospel accounts, when he called the disciples the first time, he said “Follow me.” No claim of infallibility was made at that point. So they had no reason to follow under your system. Peter was wrong to drop his nets.

    That would be a surprise since RCism teaches the opposite.

    If that were true, self-attesting truth wouldn’t be a problem for you. But it is.

    So you do know irreformable teaching. And yet nothing Protestantism offers is offered as irreformable. WCF disclaimers. Semper reformanda. Ad fontes. Reformed and always reforming.
    Do open theist, prosperity/word of faith, arian, RC, Mormon, EO, anti-Calvinist, or abortion/ssm churches have the holy spirit just like you? Are you convinced when they say they do?

    Depends on the group. And no I’m not convinced unless and until they can give me evidence.

    Excellent. So they made and operated on those claims, yet also didn’t produce infallible lists nor mindmeld with their followers and make them personally infallible. So we can drop those arguments and move on to something else.

    Jesus and the Apostles also didn’t make the claim that having an infallible interpreter between them and their followers was necessary to distinguish divine truth from revelation, thereby invalidating the CtC claim.

    So the Apostles intervening or things like the council of Jerusalem actually were useless after all in making irreformable binding judgments when followers were divided – or maybe all those followers should’ve just shouted at each other they have the holy spirit and lived in perpetual stalemate. Guess we can’t move on after all.

    Where is the infallible interpreter between the Apostles and the Council? Not necessary then, so not necessary now to know that the council was correct.

    Jumped the gun. The identification of the deposit, let alone its nature, is not offered infallibly in your system. Remember the “broad-based consensus” that by your lights can blow it.

    But your system doesn’t infallibly identify it either. Which is why I keep getting “You can’t infallibly identify tradition.”

    Nor did Christ and the Apostles. Their followers were still fallible. Christ and the Apostles didn’t offer admittedly provisional teachings. Nor does Rome. Protestantism does. Thus the contrast between RC and Protestant claims. Personal fallibility is not the issue.

    It certainly is if I personally must have access to an infallible interpreter to know when I’m not just trusting in my own opinion. Which again is fascinating. It’s just fine to trust in my own fallible mind in order to know that Rome is that infallible interpreter and not just that it is my opinion that Rome is that infallible interpreter. But once I’ve trusted in my fallible mind to discern that truth from revelation, cast it to the curb.

    Like

  59. Robert,

    “So yes, you use “consensus” in the exact same way I do.”

    No, because again, Tradition is not a parallel authority in your system. Which is why you hold any “consensus” – regardless of how you cut and dice it – as possibly in error and Scripture as your sole final infallible authority. Which is why your earlier appeal “the Holy Spirit, who promises to work through His church” in discerning divine truth from opinion falters – the identification of the “church” remains ad hoc and a matter of reformable opinion in your system, and any said “church” is subject to error and reform in its teachings per your system’s claims, as its merely another unprincipled “consensus” you pre-select for. Because you lack any M as divinely protected arbiter.

    “Just like you’ve fallibly identified the infallible deposit because you’ve fallibly identified the church.”

    And NT believers fallibly identified Christ and the Apostles as divinely authorized. That doesn’t make Christ and the Apostles no different than a random Jewish rabbi or entail their followers are left only with reformable opinion as they would be under the random rabbi.

    “We’re all “stuck” with our fallible opinion until we become personally infallible.”

    No. Personal fallibility does not entail we’re stuck with perpetual opinion. NT followers of Christ and the Apostles offering irreformable dogma were in a different position than those under random rabbi offering admitted reformable teaching and opinion.

    “Where has Rome irreformable identified the infallible deposit.”

    WHen it identifies S and T as the deposit. You recognize Rome makes claims to authority/ability that Protestantism does not. Following that, Protestantism can never offer an irreformable teaching on the deposit – whether that teaching be the identification of the deposit, its nature, or even whether it was given and exists in the first place. So this observation should not be controversial.

    “No, my point is that lots of people followed Jesus before he ever made such a claim.”

    Would they have been justified in following Him if he never made such a claim? What if He wasn’t just silent, but made a claim to the contrary saying he had no divine authority or ability a la our random rabbi friend? Would they still be justified in following?

    “If that were true, self-attesting truth wouldn’t be a problem for you. But it is.”

    It’s a problem when your final ultimate appeal boils down to “I have the HS”. It reduces the faith to mere subjectivism and fideism. It’s not what we see in the NT or early church. That hardly means the HS has no role in RCism.

    As we see here: “Depends on the group. And no I’m not convinced unless and until they can give me evidence.” So the appeal to the HS just ends up in subjectivism.

    “Jesus and the Apostles also didn’t make the claim that having an infallible interpreter between them and their followers was necessary to distinguish divine truth from revelation, thereby invalidating the CtC claim.”

    Rome doesn’t make the claim it needs an infallible interpreter between it and its followers. Rome does claim infallibility to distinguish divine truth from opinion. Jesus and the Apostles claimed infallibility to distinguish divine truth from opinion. Protestantism does not.

    “Where is the infallible interpreter between the Apostles and the Council?”

    Exactly right. Their followers remained fallible. They weren’t made personally infallible, mindmelding, nor engaged in an infinite regress of infallible interpreters. That’s been the point.

    “It certainly is if I personally must have access to an infallible interpreter to know when I’m not just trusting in my own opinion”

    So NT believers did have to mindmeld with Christ and the Apostles after all. But you already said they didn’t.

    “But once I’ve trusted in my fallible mind to discern that truth from revelation, cast it to the curb.”

    There’s no casting of the mind. There is submission to authority and faith seeking understanding. NT believers who assented to Christ and the Apostles authority claims were not justified in holding their past, current, or future teachings as reformable or subject to error after such submission.

    Liked by 1 person

  60. Cletus, your response, please.

    Given that a person has assented to Christ as infallible, how does that person know with absolute certainty any proposition X without having an infallible chain of evidence that shows that Christ taught X?

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  61. James Young, random rabbis didn’t heal the sick. Random rabbis didn’t write texts that other apostles recognized.

    Plus, there’s the NT-era James Young who said, give us Barabas.

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  62. James Young, “I don’t have to escape my personal fallibility or become non-human for Rome’s claims to matter.”

    But you have to be bigoted to privilege Rome’s claims over Jerusalem or Antioch.

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  63. Susan,

    Susan’s link says: Since the power of granting indulgences was conferred by Christ on the Church (cf. Mt 16:19, 18:18, Jn 20:23),
    NewAdvent says: Once it is admitted that Christ left the Church the power to forgive sins (see PENANCE), the power of granting indulgences is logically inferred.

    Susan, as you know, most of us here do not ‘logically infer’ that from those verses. Most here believe (I think)
    “the sum of it all means that any duly constituted body of believers, acting in accord with God’s word, has the authority to declare if someone is forgiven or unforgiven. The church’s authority is not to determine these things, but to declare the judgment of heaven based on the principles of the word. When they make such judgments on the basis of God’s word, they can be sure heaven is in accord. When the church says the unrepentant person is bound in sin, the church is saying what God says about the person. When the church acknowledges that a repentant person has been loosed from that sin, God agrees.” (MacArthur study bible)

    Therefore, and by the same token, when the New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism says (eg), “The faithful who devote 20 minutes to a half hour to teaching or studying Christian doctrine, may gain: an indulgence of three years. A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions twice a month, if the above practice is carried out at least twice a month.”

    we believe it ridiculous to think that reading doctrine and saying a prayer removes time of punishment in the Catholic-invented place called purgatory.
    And we say: All Roman Catholics should stop looking to the church as its means of salvation and/or as a means of deliverance from punishment. Instead, the Roman Catholic should look to Christ alone through faith alone for the forgiveness of his/her sins. (https://carm.org/indulgences)

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  64. Jeff,

    Faith and reason. Applied to NT believers, applies now.

    Darryl,

    Mormons claims to have faith and the holy spirit – are you convinced? Is that how disputes in the NT and early church were settled?
    Right, random rabbis didn’t perform miracles. Why would Christ and the apostles perform miracles? Just for its own sake, or also to give credibility to their claims to divine authority and approval? The latter – so their claims mattered and were meant to impress and be heeded, not be shrugged off as useless, unnecessary, or epistemologically impossible.

    Were NT believers bigoted to privilege Christ and the Apostles claims over competing messiahs and apostles?
    Tradition is a parallel authority for Francis whenever he celebrates the liturgy, performs or takes sacraments, reads Scripture, prays, etc.

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  65. CVD,

    Faith and reason.

    Infallible faith and reason or fallible faith and reason?

    You’re missing the thrust of the question, which makes sense given your history of interaction. Your unwillingness/inability to answer Jeff’s shows a deficiency in your understanding of Cat/Prot dialogue.

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  66. James Young, no, I’m not convinced. Neither do I go knock kneed when Rome claims to be infallible. You’ve never suspected it’s a tad self serving to say “I am infallible.”

    Papal infallibility, you know, did not settle any disputes in the Bible. Have you read it?

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  67. Darryl,

    Were Christ and the Apostles self-serving in claiming divine authority/ability?
    Did ecclesiastical infallibility settle any disputes? Was the council of jerusalem worth no more than a shrug?

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  68. Cletus,

    First, what Brandon said.

    Second, fallible faith and reason trusting an infallible authority. Okay, welcome to Protestantism.

    Cletus: “But Protestantism doesn’t infallibly identify the authority.”

    Maybe, but now that I think about it, neither did Jesus or the Apostles. I mean, they certainly could have. But the only thing infallibly identified by them is the OT canon, and that by Jesus. Neither Jesus or the Apostles infallibly identify the full extent of the deposit of faith. If they did and you had access to it, you could give it to us. All you have is infallible authority that has partially identified the deposit. IE, you have SOME components of it. That’s not any different from Protestantism if the claim to infallibility is necessary. Just pick all the components of Scripture that have a “thus saith the Lord.” It really is no different than you. What has been infallibly identified? The canon and certain aspects of Tradition, but not all of it. For us, certain aspects of prophetic and Apostolic tradition, but not all of it. There is of yet been no evidence presented that we have any more or fewer of the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles than the actual first-century believers.

    Fallible Cletus trusts Rome based on his fallible belief that Rome claims to have the infallible ability to discern truth from opinion. But since trusting Rome does not eliminate Cletus’ infallibility, and there is no room for self-attesting truth or the subjective confirmation of the truth by the Spirit as the final, definitive reason he believes, all he ever has is his fallible opinion that Rome can and actually has infallibly identified divine truth. So, logically, Cletus has perpetual uncertainty. And to boot, since he has said there are things that would make him stop being RC, he is ever holding Rome’s teaching in doubt or that it’s possible Rome is wrong. Only those who say that they would never leave Rome actually submit without holding Rome as potentially ever reformable.

    Fallible Robert trusts Geneva based on his fallible belief that Geneva, though fallible, has correctly discerned truth from opinion. Trusting Geneva doesn’t eliminate Robert’s fallibility, but that is not a problem because fallibility does not preclude being correct or identifying truth. If it did, Robert would be hopeless, like Cletus is in trusting his fallible mind that stands between him and Rome, for Cletus confesses that fallibility and warrant for faith cannot coexist. But Robert seems to have an advantage because he affirms the self-attesting nature of divine truth and has the Holy Spirit. He can conceive of a realm in which it is logically possible that he is wrong, but that’s really all it is, a logical possibility. So actually, he doesn’t hold his settled beliefs in perpetual doubt like Cletus holds his settled beliefs in perpetual doubt. Robert cannot really conceive of anything that could get him to leave Jesus, and this not because of mere subjective fideism but because of the interplay of the objective Scriptures, the objective evidence for the truth of those Scriptures, the objective fact that Christianity does a far better job of accounting for reality and human experience than any other system we know of, and the subjective confirmation and assurance granted by the Spirit.

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  69. Brandon,

    I’m fallible. That doesn’t mean I can never know (infallible) truth – be it divine or natural – or have to asterisk every belief or article of knowledge and faith because of that. The external world and truth is not inaccessible to me just because I’m fallible. NT believers could know with certainty infallible truths without mindmelding with those offering such truths. But we already went over this with nose-generating bats, moon-jumping cows, laws of logic, and radical skepticism and presuppositionalism endorsed by some here.

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  70. CVD,

    You’ve still not answered Jeff’s question, which I think is very important. But, after that, you’ve noted something very interesting,

    I’m fallible. That doesn’t mean I can never know (infallible) truth – be it divine or natural – or have to asterisk every belief or article of knowledge and faith because of that.

    This is what we’ve been advocating from the beginning. But then you take a leap of logic by saying,

    But we already went over this with nose-generating bats, moon-jumping cows, laws of logic, and radical skepticism and presuppositionalism endorsed by some here.

    This is really frustrating because you’ve clearly not heard what we’ve been saying for years. All we’ve advocated is that we’re fallible and should not act as if we know infallibly. We know infallible doctrines fallibly. We know laws of nature fallibly but we can still have general knowledge. That’s not a problem.

    If we can agree there that is good, but it requires you to drop or alter your attack on Protestantism. That’s why Jeff’s question is so important. If you can answer it, then I think after years of discussion we may be near a resolution on whether or not your argument against Protestantism applies principles equitably.

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  71. Cletus: I’m fallible. That doesn’t mean I can never know (infallible) truth – be it divine or natural – or have to asterisk every belief or article of knowledge and faith because of that.

    Actually, it does mean that.

    The fact that you have struggled so mightily to answer my simple question is a clear indicator that there is a part of your theory that remains unexamined: How can a fallible person have an infallible knowledge of truth? The closest you’ve come to answering that question is “faith and reason”, which is kind of like a football interview: “How are you going to beat the Patriots?” “Grit and determination”

    Cut to the chase. This is straightforward logic:

    (1) If you are fallible, meaning capable of making an error, then you are capable of making an error in determining or understanding what an infallible source teaches. That’s the definition of “being fallible.”

    (2) If you are capable of making an error in determination or understanding, then there is always a possibility (however small) that you have done so. For if there is no such possibility, then you are not capable of making an error.

    (3) If there is a possibility that you have erred in determining or understanding proposition X, then there is a possibility that X is mistaken. NOT that the infallible source was mistaken to say X, BUT that the infallible source never said X to begin with.

    (4) And that means that for all propositions X, you must (if you are honest) put an asterisk next to it, with a footnote saying “assuming, of course, that this is what the church teaches.”

    You, Cletus, do not have infallible knowledge of any propositions. That follows directly from your own fallibility. All of your propositions have * next to them.

    I think you probably sense this, which is why you’ve been reluctant to put forward a theory as to how a fallible human could have infallible knowledge without an act of divine revelation.

    Like

  72. James Young, Christ never claimed infallibility. Neither did the apostles. It’s called an inference. But popes, feeling insecure and over their heads, say they are.

    So now a council is good enough? So now you’re a conciliarist with Francis Oakley? You’re shooting blanks.

    Watch this video and get your papal audacity on.

    Like

  73. Cletus,

    And might I had that not one of us here is a skeptic or a radical skeptic. Bryan Cross is. Because the only reason to suggest we need an infallible arbiter of truth to discern fact from opinion is because of our fallibility, which for some reason precludes us from knowing divinely revealed truth. If our fallible knowledge were adequate, there would be no need for the arbiter. It is CtC position that is radically skeptical, not the Reformed. The issue is that CTC refuses to acknowledge the obvious and take their position to its conclusion. If fallible knowledge is adequate to discern divine revelation, as you have said that it is, you are arguing for something that is not needed. So, it’s all about our individual fallibility. The argument of CTC is premised on the inadequacy of our knowledge to provide that principled means. But if that is true, then you don’t have one until you become infallible.

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  74. D. G. Hart says:Watch this video and get your papal audacity on.

    haven’t listened to it all (or much); but appreciate the principle: unless you utter by the tongue speech that is clear, how will it be known what is spoken; and the appeal (I think) for all: hold the testimony of Jesus

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  75. Robert,

    There is no such thing as fallible knowledge. What we hold in our minds correlates with reality or it doesn’t.
    If you say that Jesus was risen after he died and that he was a carpenter when he was alive, then you have spoken inerrant truth and your words were infalliblele(without error). If you said Jesus was married, you are in error and your words ,as they correspond with reality, were therefore fallible as spoken language.
    A skeptic who thinks of Jesus as a great sage, but not the second person of the Holy Trinity will not possess the words “Jesus was raised from the dead after he was crucified” even though that truth is infallible( as only truth can be, otherwise it wouldn’t be truth would it?)
    So if I say that the Church was begun by Jesus and that Jesus created the office for Peter and any successors to fill, I am speaking a dogmatic truth, and my words as they correspond with reality are infallible. If I suddenly deny that and say that, “Jesus didn’t create an office ,but was only commending Peter’s faith.” then I am declaring erroneously ( if I don’t believe the Church’s testimony) and am speaking fallibly( with error).
    Dogma is infallible, that’s why it demands our assent.
    Get it?

    Like

  76. Sure,

    There is no such thing as fallible knowledge. What we hold in our minds correlates with reality or it doesn’t.

    I basically agree. But the subject who does the knowing is fallible, so we always fallibly know that our mind correlates with reality. I can say and know that 2+2=4 corresponds to reality without having to be infallible. But the entire CtC project is premised on the fact that I really can’t know that the statement “Jesus rose from the dead” corresponds to reality because I am fallible, and my fallibility precludes me from being able to distinguish opinion from divinely revealed facts. Proposing another infallible body doesn’t make me infallible. This is the problem.

    Fallibility, it seems, is inherent to the human condition. I never know everything and can never know anything, so there is always the chance, however small, that I could be wrong. This is one of the points Brandon, Jeff, SDB, and I have all been trying to bring out. If fallibility means there is no possibility of assent without asterisks, you are there as well. Because your fallible mind proposes to your fallible will the fact of Rome’s infallibility. But since you are fallible, there is always the chance you’ve read Rome completely wrong. Therefore, if having a fallible entity making propositions means you can’t assent to truth in any true or lasting way (the CtC argument), no human being can do it without the mind meld.

    Just substitute Susan’s mind in Cletus’ argument and it invalidates your ability to know anything with confidence.

    If you say that Jesus was risen after he died and that he was a carpenter when he was alive, then you have spoken inerrant truth and your words were infalliblele(without error).

    Infallible means “incapable of error.” Inerrant means “without error.” So it is actually that I, though fallible, spoke inerrant truth. Infallibility always entails inerrancy but inerrancy does not always entail infallibility.

    If you said Jesus was married, you are in error and your words ,as they correspond with reality, were therefore fallible as spoken language.

    Actually, this would be the case of a fallible person making an errant statement.

    A skeptic who thinks of Jesus as a great sage, but not the second person of the Holy Trinity will not possess the words “Jesus was raised from the dead after he was crucified” even though that truth is infallible( as only truth can be, otherwise it wouldn’t be truth would it?)

    What makes truth true is not infallibility but its correspondence to real states of affairs. Infallibility is the characteristic of a living entity. So we can predicate infallibility of God and of Scripture because they are living entities. (In fact, the fundamental Roman Catholic problem is the belief that Scripture is a dead letter and is only alive insofar as the Magisterium makes it so. That contradicts the book of Hebrews and a host of other things.) You could even predicate it of the church if in fact there were evidence that the church is infallible, though as a Protestant I am convinced that the church is not granted infallibility. It is protected by the Holy Spirit, but it’s a long-term eschatological protection, not a “in precise instance” protection.

    So if I say that the Church was begun by Jesus and that Jesus created the office for Peter and any successors to fill, I am speaking a dogmatic truth, and my words as they correspond with reality are infallible. If I suddenly deny that and say that, “Jesus didn’t create an office ,but was only commending Peter’s faith.” then I am declaring erroneously ( if I don’t believe the Church’s testimony) and am speaking fallibly( with error).

    But the test is whether your words correspond to reality. And in this case, the first part does but the second doesn’t. There just isn’t good evidence that Jesus intended anything like the papacy. But even if he did and he did establish the papacy, your declaration that He created the office would be inerrant but you would still be fallible. Speaking something true does not necessitate infallibility.

    Dogma is infallible, that’s why it demands our assent.

    Well the declarations of an infallible body would demand our assent. But they are not more demanding of assent than true propositions uttered by a fallible body or individual. Your first grade math teacher was not infallible when she taught you 2+2=4, but you were right to assent to that proposition because it is true. Indeed, you had to submit to it.

    The Protestant claim is really very simple: all truth is God’s truth and it is self-attesting. So it doesn’t matter if a fallible body spoke it or an infallible body spoke it. What matters is whether it is true or not. For some reason, you all don’t think you can really know any special revelation truths on your own. You all rightly touch on an epistemological question, as in how do we know when our thoughts actually correspond to reality. It’s a question all must deal with. But introducing an infallible church doesn’t actually solve the problem, and that is our point. Because you are fallible, your knowledge that Rome teaches infallible truth might be wrong. It’s a very small possibility, but it is one nonetheless. But since you have made infallibility the criterion for knowledge, you end up encouraging a radical skepticism whose only response is stark fideism. Bryan Cross dresses it up with lots of philosophy, and some people are in awe because he has a PhD, but all he is doing is encouraging a radical skepticism. Fallible knowledge, according to Bryan, is wholly inadequate. If that is so, the only answer is to make the knower infallible and not just the proposer of truth. But Bryan doesn’t do that.

    I say this as kindly as a can, but you have been deceived by Bryan Cross and any other version of the CtC argument out there. It is insidious and will destroy your soul. Step back for a minute and really consider the issues. Either fallibility is able to give you true knowledge or not. Since you live and act as if it is sufficient to be fallible and know truth, there is no need for an infallible church.

    Bryan et al believe that fallibility precludes knowledge of divine truth. If that is so, then we are all without hope in this world because none of us are infallible.

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  77. Robert,

    Just want to add another example. What is professed in the Nicene Creed are truths infallible( redundant, but needed in order to make things understood) and when confessed by Christians, it just means that we trust that this is God’s revelation.
    What “consubstantial” and “one, holy, universal” means, might have to be explained, clarified and reworded for the age and mental capacity of the one who confesses( faith seeking understanding) but they are not up for revision or reforming. We put ourselves beneath them, understanding they are the truth ( spiritual and historical) of God.

    You might find a way to disagree with what I’ve said today( and we should examine your arguments), but at least you can understand how faith works in Catholicism. And knowing that, you can stop with the ad hominems towards CtC, Jason, MWF, Cletus, myself….
    Hoping to be of help.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

  78. Robert,

    “I say this as kindly as a can, but you have been deceived by Bryan Cross and any other version of the CtC argument out there. It is insidious and will destroy your soul. Step back for a minute and really consider the issues. Either fallibility is able to give you true knowledge or not. Since you live and act as if it is sufficient to be fallible and know truth, there is no need for an infallible church.”

    The thing is, Robert, the only reason I am certain of infallible truths as related to the transcendent God, afterlife, …,.is because there is one church, that claims to offer this.
    If Jesus have authority then he gave it to one church. And if it has authority its teachings are for me to bend my knee to.

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  79. @Susan & Robert

    “There is no such thing as fallible knowledge. What we hold in our minds correlates with reality or it doesn’t.”

    “Infallible means “incapable of error.” Inerrant means “without error.” So it is actually that I, though fallible, spoke inerrant truth. Infallibility always entails inerrancy but inerrancy does not always entail infallibility.”

    I would phrase things a bit differently. Inerrant is not simply a synonym for correct. It is stronger than that (else we should excise it from the english language). My broken watch is not inerrant twice a day (or infallible at exactly noon and midnight). Infallible and inerrant have in mind protection from failing and protection from error. This is much stronger than saying true or correct – it is to say that it could not have been wrong.

    Protestants and Catholics both believe that God’s Word is incapable of error because it is God speaking and he defines reality. Since humans are sinful, it is always possible that we can err. Protestants believe that the reason the inscripturated word is inerrant is because those words “did not originate in the will of man” as Peter tells us. We also believe that knowledge of the truths contained in the scriptures is impossible apart from the enlightenment by the Holy Spirit. Further, God has ordained certain people to shepherd his flock and teach them. However, being men, they are fallible (as we are warned about). It seems to me that the RCs add a layer to this and say that under certain conditions the Pope and groups of Bishops can also speak infallibly, however, they are not providing new revelation from God:
    1) they can and have erred
    2) the conditions under which they are infallible are not defined in scripture and indeed have evolved considerably over nearly two millennia.

    The philosophical and sociological arguments for why a human infallible teacher are necessary fail. Philosophically, adding an infallible middleman simple results in kicking the can down the road. All of the problems that the protestant faces relying on the Holy Spirit speaking through the living word of God apply to the catholic relying on the Holy Spirit speaking through tradition, magisterium, and scripture: namely identification, interpretation, and application. Sociologically, the diversity of belief among those who believe in the infallibility of the STM triad is at least as great as the diversity of belief among those who hold to SS as defined in the WCF and TFU (what I call RPSS). We can go on about practice and so forth, but I don’t want to belabor the point.

    The most troubling aspect of the CTC apologetic is the belief that God’s word is not living and active, but indeed a dead letter apart from the Magisterium. I don’t know that most thoughtful RCs I’ve talked to would agree, so perhaps this is an idiosyncratic view on their part.

    Of course, none of this proves that the claims rome makes on its behalf are true or false. That’s never been the point of these discussions. The question on the table is whether RPSS is inherently self-defeating or not. I’ve not heard anything here (or among the CTC bunch) that gives me pause. The epistemic advantage does not exist.

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  80. Susan,

    I hope you know this is not intended with any malice, but you are deeply confused, and have been ever since you’ve been commenting on blogs. That is really sad and disappointing for me because I know the angst that you felt was real and you now truly believe the angst has been resolved by the “argument CtC founded.” My concern, however, is that you have consistently demonstrated an inability to understand the fundamental issues. You think you have something you do not have, and my fear is that when you realize this at some point later in your life you (or your family) will become disillusioned with Christianity.

    IMO, one way you can work to become a more thoughtful contributor & Christian would be to honestly address Jeff’s question. Don’t presume to teach or point us to an alternative source that does not actually address the question at hand.

    Here is Jeff’s question again:

    Take any proposition X that you believe the church teaches. If you do not have an infallible chain of evidence that gives you infallible knowledge that the church teaches X, how do you know without doubt that X is true?

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  81. Hi again my friend,
    “But even if he did and he did establish the papacy, your declaration that He created the office would be inerrant but you would still be fallible.”

    First of all, if Jesus established the papacy, we should be able to acertain the truth of the case since the dispute is between Catholics and Protestants.( If we are both shooting in the dark then so much for there being a winning side. One view vs. Another view establishes what exactly?)
    But If you as a Protestant have and know what the truth of the case is, then you speak without error when you tell others. That truth that you speak is infallible truth. It isn’t liable to be error ( if its true)just because you as host are liable to err; you are just as likely to not err even if we are just guessing.
    When you witness it to others you are declaring it infallibly.
    Just like when you say that Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father, you are a fallible person who is liable to speak a falsehood, but on some occasions you are likely to bear witness to the truth. To bear witness is to tell “what is”.
    When you say that Jesus is God, are you possibly wrong? If you felt that you could possibly be wrong, would you defend what you hold only doubtfully?

    “Speaking something true does not necessitate infallibility.”

    That Mary’s body and soul are in Heaven right now is a dogma of The Church. Since this is an infallible teaching, its truth is certain. You can find out why Catholicism declares this infallibly or you can deny it on protestant principles alone or you can debate what infallibility means and the implications of not having a teaching authority to settle disagreements.

    Again, have a nice weekend.

    Like

  82. Susan,

    Just want to add another example. What is professed in the Nicene Creed are truths infallible( redundant, but needed in order to make things understood) and when confessed by Christians, it just means that we trust that this is God’s revelation.

    When a Protestant confesses the Nicene Creed, he is trusting that the Trinity has been revealed by God. And we don’t need to say that the church could not have possibly gotten it wrong in order to have that trust. All we need to be confident is that the words of the creed are correct. And I don’t need an infallible church for that. The church’s witness gives me sufficient confidence without it having to be infallible just as the witness of mathematicians give me sufficient confidence that 2+2=4 without them having to be infallible.

    What “consubstantial” and “one, holy, universal” means, might have to be explained, clarified and reworded for the age and mental capacity of the one who confesses( faith seeking understanding) but they are not up for revision or reforming. We put ourselves beneath them, understanding they are the truth ( spiritual and historical) of God.

    Ah, but if you reword the creed, you have effectively reformed it. If you mean that the concepts are not up for revision, then I agree, but that’s not because there is no logical possibility of change but because the concepts have been tested for centuries by many different traditions and no one has come up with anything better or that better sums up the various threads of Scripture. And I can be confident that at this point, no one ever will on this side of glory. But I don’t know that it’s logically impossible either. It’s not logically impossible that we live in the matrix. It’s not logically impossible that we’re not the figment of a higher being’s imagination. But none of those ideas are worth considering even if they have real, though infinitesimal chance of being correct.

    You might find a way to disagree with what I’ve said today( and we should examine your arguments), but at least you can understand how faith works in Catholicism. And knowing that, you can stop with the ad hominems towards CtC, Jason, MWF, Cletus, myself….

    All you have demonstrated is that even for the Roman Catholic, faith does not make you escape your personal fallibility. So at the end of the day, fallible Susan is placing her faith in what she believes to be infallible and fallible Robert is doing the same thing. The issue is that Bryan has created this problem—fallible people can’t know the difference between divine truth and opinion because they are fallible and then he proposes a solution that doesn’t answer the problem he has identified. Fallible Susan is still trusting in what she believes is infallible. You’ve just added another layer of purported infallibility between you and the deposit of faith. You haven’t told me HOW I, being fallible, know. That is Jeff’s point, which is really why some RC should make a stab at answering the question.

    I’m not trying to insult anyone. All I see is a bunch of guys with formal training in philosophy, philosophical training that far surpasses mine, making arguments that look at least somewhat compelling on the surface but when you dig down a little, you realize that these same professional philosophers are making some very, very basic philosophical errors and they simply aren’t applying standards consistently. I’ve yet to hear anybody, by the same standards, give me a solid case for what the principled means is that they use to distinguish between their opinion that Rome is the church that Christ founded and the divine truth that the church that Christ founded is Rome, and any attempt boils down to a kind of vicious circularity.

    It’s not an insult on my part or an ad hominem to say you have been deceived. We’re all deceived at some point in our lives. But CtC is taking a real concern—the desire for religious certainty—and promoting a radical skepticism that suggests a problem with no viable solution. All in the interest of making converts. Whether CtC is consciously deceiving people, I do not know. I don’t think they are. But the reality is that this is what has happened.

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  83. Brandon,

    I will answer Jeff’s question later today.
    But I want you to understand that no pastor of any protestant community is my authority, (and they are not the authority of anyone else either).
    You and I are on equal terms- lay people. You may say you care, but your words are patronizing and offensive.
    I have considered the long term outcome and being Catholic is the only way to not be agnostic.
    I can do my best to show you how this is true, but as long as you dig your heels into “your Reformed truth”, using its epistimolgy of fallibility and fideism we will not progress.

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  84. Susan,

    The truth I claim is either true or it isn’t. The fact that I speak it and it is true does not make me infallible. I am completely and totally fallible, but it is true that my name is Robert. At the moment I said that, it was possible for me to err. I could have typed “My name is Frank” or “My name is Joe.” But I didn’t. But the fact that I didn’t doesn’t mean that it was absolutely impossible for me to have done so.

    All that matters is whether what I said is correct or not. Infallibility isn’t required. If the dogma of the assumption were true, and the only source of it for me was fallible Susan, the only thing that matters to me is whether or not you have said what is true. You don’t have to be infallible. You are the middleman between the infallible revelation and fallible me, and there is no reason why you need to be infallible. Protestants view the church similarly. The church is the middleman between the infallible dogma and fallible me. There’s no reason why it needs to be infallible for me to recognize if it is portraying that dogma correctly. If an infallible middleman is needed, then I need an infallible mind to stand between me and the dogma presented because the reality of the situation is that my mind stands between my will and the truth claim presented. As long as that is the case, Bryan’s argument only works if he makes my mind infallible.

    This is the difference between us.

    Will of Robert looks to Robert’s fallible mind to receive and communicate infallible revelation from God’s Word
    Will of Susan looks to Susan’s fallible mind to receive and communicate infallible revelation from God’s Word, the church, and whatever else is purportedly infallible.

    As long as your mind is as fallible as mine is, you have no advantage.

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  85. But I want you to understand that no pastor of any protestant community is my authority, (and they are not the authority of anyone else either).

    Wow – Yet Paul instructs you to submit to the (possibly pagan) authorities he has placed over you. Curious indeed.

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  86. “That Mary’s body and soul are in Heaven right now is a dogma of The Church. Since this is an infallible teaching, its truth is certain. You can find out why Catholicism declares this infallibly or you can deny it on protestant principles alone or you can debate what infallibility means and the implications of not having a teaching authority to settle disagreements.”
    Unless you misidentified the true church. Uh oh… What if the EOs are right?

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  87. Brandon,

    “CVD: I’m fallible. That doesn’t mean I can never know (infallible) truth – be it divine or natural – or have to asterisk every belief or article of knowledge and faith because of that.”
    BA: This is what we’ve been advocating from the beginning.
    JRC: Actually, it does mean that.”

    So which is it? Maybe that will help resolve the frustration.

    Jeff,

    This was already covered in the assemblies thread:
    JRC: It has been argued here by CVD and Tom and you and Mermaid that it is improper to place faith in anything known provisionally.
    CVD: No its been argued it is improper to place faith in anything offered as admittedly provisional. Thus the contrast between RC and Protestant claims.

    Hence the reference to NT believers. NT believers were fallible. You and I are fallible. That does not mean there was no difference in the consequences between Christ/Apostles and random rabbi claims or, analogously, Rome and random Protestant church claims, or theoretically between Christ or the Apostles materializing in your study vs dinner with some random NT scholar. Epistemology is not ontology.

    “How can a fallible person have an infallible knowledge of truth? ”

    Truth is not errant or reformable. A fallible person can know truth and reality without being omniscient or having an infallible understanding of it. A fallible person does not have to asterisk every belief as possibly in error and open to doubt/revision.

    “(1) If you are fallible, meaning capable of making an error, then you are capable of making an error in determining or understanding what an infallible source teaches. That’s the definition of “being fallible.””

    Sure. That does not entail my knowledge or understanding is therefore errant. Nor does it mean an authority offering an (irreformable) truth and teaching must offer such teachings as reformable or possibly in error. An authority offering an admitted opinion though would offer such a teaching as reformable or possibly in error.

    “(2) If you are capable of making an error in determination or understanding, then there is always a possibility (however small) that you have done so. For if there is no such possibility, then you are not capable of making an error.”

    Because I am capable of making errors does not entail I always make an error. Nor does it mean an authority offering an (irreformable) truth and teaching must offer it as reformable or possibly in error. An authority offering an admitted opinion though would offer such a teaching as reformable or possibly in error.

    “(3) If there is a possibility that you have erred in determining or understanding proposition X, then there is a possibility that X is mistaken. NOT that the infallible source was mistaken to say X, BUT that the infallible source never said X to begin with.”

    Right, so since we’re all fallible, NT believers were in no different position under Christ/Apostles than those under a random rabbi. You would be in no different position than the rest of us if Christ/Apostles materialized in your study this evening for an all-nighter discussion. But I doubt you believe that, though maybe I’m wrong – I’m fallible.

    “(4) And that means that for all propositions X, you must (if you are honest) put an asterisk next to it, with a footnote saying “assuming, of course, that this is what the church teaches.””

    Nope, I do not have to asterisk every proposition I hold. Do you asterisk your belief that you must asterisk every belief?

    “do not have infallible knowledge of any propositions.”

    I don’t need infallible knowledge or omniscience to know truth and reality.

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  88. Brandon,

    You know what?…… I am sorry. I snapped at you. I get seriously irked by people saying they worry about my faith.
    Are cradle Catholics in danger or only converts?
    I converted for the security and to meet Jesus in the sacraments. Not necessarily in that order for they are the same thing.
    Anyways, I’m not cut out for this. You’re better off talking to someone else.

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  89. Cletus,

    Unless you are the order of a totally different being, any claim must pass through your fallible mind and then be presented to your will for a decision. Since your mind is fallible, the only think it can offer your will is provisional interpretation. Hence Jeff’s question, which you haven’t answered.

    Now if you believe that you don’t need an infallible mind to know truth and reality, then very good. We agree. But if you need a something to make a claim to non-provisional knowledge, you are out of luck. Because every time you trust something, you’ve just trusted a provisional, asterisked position presented by your mind to your will. Which again is why your position, if it is to be a solution, requires a mind meld or something of that nature.

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  90. Robert,

    “any claim must pass through your fallible mind and then be presented to your will for a decision”

    Sure, just as it did for NT believers. So Christ/Apostles were no different than a random rabbi according to you since followers of both had to interpret them with their fallible minds.

    “Since your mind is fallible, the only think it can offer your will is provisional interpretation. ”

    Is this belief of yours provisional and open to doubt?

    “Which again is why your position, if it is to be a solution, requires a mind meld or something of that nature.”

    My position merely requires an infallible authority (thus an authority who makes claims consonant with infallibility rather than explicit claims to the contrary). Not infallibility of the submitting agent. No mindmeld needed for NT believers, no mindmeld needed for RCs.

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  91. Clete,

    Your argument doesn’t make a lot of sense, frankly. Why do you not have to asterisk every belief of yours as potentially wrong and reformable when the fact is that every belief you have is potentially wrong and reformable (because you’re fallible) but Protestants have to simply because something is not offered as infallible?

    Yeah, we get that fallibility doesn’t entail or even require that you are in error. But if the mere possibility of error is enough to asterisk a belief simply because something is proposed as fallible, why is it not enough to asterisk a belief when the brute fact reality is that you are fallible.

    You still have to trust your fallible mind in a proximate sense no matter how something is offered, so it does not make sense how something offered as infallible automatically gives you a principled means since your fallibility gives you a not-zero probability that you are actually wrong that something has been offered as infallible or that a claim to infallibility is even made.

    There’s a chance, no matter how tiny, that the right message didn’t make it through to you at all. But you can have warrant trust a provisionally received message but not a provisionally proposed one?? Seems like special pleading to me.

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  92. Robert,

    I agree my argument doesn’t make a lot of sense to someone who holds to skepticism and presuppositionalism/fideism. But you don’t have to hold those (and shouldn’t).

    “Yeah, we get that fallibility doesn’t entail or even require that you are in error. ”

    Good. Nor does it require any and all authorities to offer teachings as admittedly reformable or possibly in error.

    “so it does not make sense how something offered as infallible automatically gives you a principled means”

    So Christ/Apostles were not a principled means for NT believers (who were fallible just like us) to distinguish reformable opinion from irreformable divine truth by your argument. See the problem?

    Like

  93. Cletus,

    Sure, just as it did for NT believers. So Christ/Apostles were no different than a random rabbi according to you since followers of both had to interpret them with their fallible minds.

    The issue isn’t whether they’re in a different position or not. The issue is that you think the mere claim is somehow necessary and somehow automatically puts you in a better position. It plainly isn’t necessary, unless you want to tell me that Jesus had no right to expect other Jews to view Genesis as Scripture and that Peter was wrong to follow Jesus before Jesus made any claim to authority. And if it’s false, it doesn’t put you in a better position out of the gate.

    If the Protestants are right, they are better off than you. It’s a lot of theory but very little practice. All of these discussions are taking place in the realm of theory; very little in practical application. Even many RCs who advocate your position note that in practice it isn’t doing much. Recall Kenneth’s comment that even though Rome doesn’t really use the lawnmower all that often, at least you have it.

    Is this belief of yours provisional and open to doubt?

    It’s axiomatic of what it means to be fallible. If I’m fallible, my mind can propose truths only fallibly to my will.

    My position merely requires an infallible authority (thus an authority who makes claims consonant with infallibility rather than explicit claims to the contrary). Not infallibility of the submitting agent. No mindmeld needed for NT believers, no mindmeld needed for RCs.

    We keep hearing your position, but its unclear as to the “why” of it or why the mere claim to infallibility automatically makes you better off or gives you a more principled means to know truth from opinion. If you aren’t that infallible agent, it’s really hard to conceive of how the mere claim puts you at an advantage.

    It’s just so strange. You know what would be an even better principled means? If the one proposing AND the one receiving were both infallible. Therefore, I don’t even need to conceive of Roman Catholicism as being potentially true.

    If claim plus the truth of the claim puts you at an advantage, then okay I guess. But at that point, what puts you at the advantage really isn’t the claim itself. It’s the truth of the claim. If God has indeed chosen to speak infallibly in the Bible but to have the church identify that voice only fallibly—if that is what corresponds to reality, then that is the advantageous position. And it is at least logically possible that God has done just that, so there’s no principled means by which you can just ignore that claim except that you don’t like the Protestant position. But what if God gave the Protestant position? What if what you think is what’s best is what God actually gave?

    Ultimately, you have to consider the evidence based on actual reality, not what you want to be true in theory. It’s a fools errand to discount the Protestant position if in fact that is what God has given simply because you think some reality x must obtain in order to ground your faith. It’s like the atheist demanding a particular type of evidence before he will believe and not dealing with the actual argument that is there.

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  94. Clete,

    I agree my argument doesn’t make a lot of sense to someone who holds to skepticism and presuppositionalism/fideism. But you don’t have to hold those (and shouldn’t).

    Your argument presupposes skepticism. It presupposes that because we are fallible, we need some specific means besides our minds to discern divine truth from mere opinion. Your argument only gets off the ground if you assume from the outset that the individual’s mind is inadequate.

    Good. Nor does it require any and all authorities to offer teachings as admittedly reformable or possibly in error.

    Protestant position doesn’t say the church is required to offer teachings as reformable. Protestant position says the reality of what God has given us is a church that is not infallible.

    So Christ/Apostles were not a principled means for NT believers (who were fallible just like us) to distinguish reformable opinion from irreformable divine truth by your argument. See the problem?

    Sure they were, but they were divine revelation. You are saying that divine revelation is insufficient to itself be the principled means for us. That’s probably the biggest issue. For you, divine revelation plainly is insufficient to communicate its authority and truth. God’s speech, His living Word, can’t communicate with us, convince us, or serve as a principled means. But it could communicate with Abraham. All he heard initially was “Go Abraham.” And he went. The only thing that seems to be behind this is an idea that texts can’t communicate, but when the NT speak of God’s word communicating, they are talking about texts.

    And for all this talk of the S, the T, and the M, it wasn’t as if Christ and the Apostles were going around explicitly identifying what statements of theirs were true and which were in error at every given point. Christ, if indeed he is God, doesn’t need to. But the Apostles would.

    So you have this really odd position of saying we have to have a church telling us where it has spoken infallibly and where it hasn’t, but then we point out that the church has not done that exhaustively, and you say it doesn’t matter because you can just trust the ordinary teaching of the church anyway. And yet the ordinary teaching can be in error, as seen in how the Magisterium has corrected things or at least identified things in common belief (Arianism) that were wrong. And then you say we don’t need an exhaustive list, but it only has to do it once. And we put forward the explicit claims in Scripture where a writer makes a claim to infallibility/authority, and then you tell us that’s not enough because of Text Criticism, etc. And then we say that well you don’t have the infallible chain of evidence either, but that doesn’t matter.

    It’s all rather ad hoc and frankly looks like the application of a double standard.

    Like

  95. Susan Vader said If Jesus have authority then he gave it to one church. And if it has authority its teachings are for me to bend my knee to.

    Susan Vader says: Brandon,You know what?…… I am sorry. I snapped at you. I get seriously irked by people saying they worry about my faith. Are cradle Catholics in danger or only converts? I converted for the security and to meet Jesus in the sacraments. Not necessarily in that order for they are the same thing.Anyways, I’m not cut out for this. You’re better off talking to someone else.

    I saw out in a public Catholic establishment today, a very large picture of ‘Jesus’ with a bright red heart on his chest. The picture was titled My Sacred Heart Of Jesus and written below the picture was ”I will bless the homes in which the image of my scared heart shall be exposed and honored.” Down in the corner it said ‘300 days indulgence each time’.

    I said to myself – Jesus says to have that picture image displayed in one’s home and it will result in blessing and it gains 300 indulgences each time? The possibility of that is zero.
    A ‘church’ that promotes things this is deceived and all the points here seem mute unless these things are addressed?

    Mrsw says Susan leaves because of her treatment here. As far as I can see, I believe she leaves for one of two reasons ( which I also believe mrsw may believe and covers for ) 1) yes, the treatment sometimes but too 2) because of cognitive dissonance she has, also called truth suppression?

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  96. Ali,

    ” because of cognitive dissonance she has, also called truth suppression?

    Please don’t try to play psychologist. How would you like it if I did that to you?
    I leave because while I love a good debate, I waste time here. Time I should use for doing something creative or beneficial to others.
    Some of the guys are rude, some aren’t, so I don’t take off just because they are mean to me. I can deal with that. I interject when I think( hope) I’ve found a peg in the discussion that could actually lead somewhere.

    Like

  97. Robert,

    “The issue isn’t whether they’re in a different position or not.”

    That is definitely the issue. Because both groups of followers were fallible. If NT believers were in a different position despite their personal fallibility, RC believers can be in a different position despite their personal fallibility. And if that’s the case, your side’s arguments this thread evaporate. Hence my attempt to short-circuit that way early above, to no avail.

    “It plainly isn’t necessary”

    Hmm.
    “CVD: Does not make Christ/Apostles claims to infallible authority and ability useless, impossible, or unnecessary
    R: Christ/Apostles didn’t make useless, impossible, or unnecessary claims.”
    So despite your earlier protestations when I raised that consequence of your arguments, we see it actually is the case.

    “And if it’s false, it doesn’t put you in a better position out of the gate. ”

    That’s true. But the question has always been granting the truth of both positions, which offers a better and coherent position. But your side’s entire argument this thread has been even if Rome’s claims were true, her followers wouldn’t be in any different, let alone better, position than Protestant given Protestantism’s claims, simply because personal fallibility of submitting agents somehow atom bombs every consequence of Rome’s claims.

    “Recall Kenneth’s comment that even though Rome doesn’t really use the lawnmower all that often, at least you have it.”

    And Protestantism can’t ever use the lawnmower even once, as it admits upfront it doesn’t have one.

    “It’s axiomatic of what it means to be fallible.”

    Is this axiom of yours provisional and open to doubt? Is there any belief you hold that is 100% certain and irreformable? If so, why doesn’t Protestantism offer any irreformable doctrines, instead of qualifying them all as provisional and subject to revision/error?

    “It presupposes that because we are fallible, we need some specific means besides our minds to discern divine truth from mere opinion.”

    No, it reasons that we need some divine authority to discern divine truth from mere opinion, else we reduce divine truths to natural ones and faith to rationalism, or we reduce anything presented as divine revelation as a matter of opinion. It doesn’t start with a self-defeating view that “reason isn’t neutral” or that “[Facts/evidence] are meaningless without interpretation” and others things which leads to skepticism and fideism wrapped up in presuppositionalism.

    “Your argument only gets off the ground if you assume from the outset that the individual’s mind is inadequate.”

    The mind is adequate – God gave us reason. Your side is the one maintaining a fallible mind is inadequate to grasp truth and reality and must therefore asterisk every article of knowledge or faith.

    “Protestant position doesn’t say the church is required to offer teachings as reformable. ”

    WCF disclaimers. Semper reformanda. Ad fontes. “CVD: Everything is and remains provisional. That’s not a “problem” for you. That’s fine, but it’s a stunning admission.
    JRC: Stunning? Our “side” admitted that in 1647 at the latest.”

    “Protestant position says the reality of what God has given us is a church that is not infallible.”

    Right, and this teaching is itself offered as reformable. So your churches could be infallible after all, given your claims to not be infallible. More incoherence.

    “Sure they were”

    So they were a principled means, even when their followers were fallible and not mindmelding. But your side’s entire argument has been fallibility and non-mindmelding of followers entails Rome cannot be a principled means or offer any benefit.

    “You are saying that divine revelation is insufficient to itself be the principled means for us. ”

    The identification of that revelation, its nature, or even whether it was given and exists in the first place is not offered as irreformable in Protestantism, as with any other teaching.

    “God’s speech, His living Word, can’t communicate with us, convince us, or serve as a principled means. ”

    S is part of the STM-triad.

    “it wasn’t as if Christ and the Apostles were going around explicitly identifying what statements of theirs were true and which were in error at every given point. Christ, if indeed he is God, doesn’t need to. But the Apostles would. ”

    And how did NT believers have a principled means with Christ and the Apostles if those statements had to pass through their fallible minds which you say precludes Rome from possibly being a principled means?

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  98. James Young, “Right, so since we’re all fallible, NT believers were in no different position under Christ/Apostles than those under a random rabbi. You would be in no different position than the rest of us if Christ/Apostles materialized in your study this evening for an all-nighter discussion. But I doubt you believe that, though maybe I’m wrong – I’m fallible.”

    So you’re in a superior position because one officer claims to be infallible?

    Do you believe all claims of people in contact with God?

    Like

  99. James Young, “My position merely requires an infallible authority”

    But your knowledge of such authority is fallible. So whom do we believe?

    And how do you sleep at night?

    Like

  100. James Young, “So Christ/Apostles were not a principled means for NT believers (who were fallible just like us) to distinguish reformable opinion from irreformable divine truth by your argument. See the problem?”

    What’s the problem? Jesus said he’d send not an infallible bishop but the Holy Spirit.

    Feel the tension. Leave the epistemology seminar.

    Like

  101. James Young, “And how did NT believers have a principled means with Christ and the Apostles if those statements had to pass through their fallible minds which you say precludes Rome from possibly being a principled means?”

    Again the Holy Spirit to the ready.

    Say “no” to epistemology, “yes” to pneumatology.

    Like

  102. Cletus,

    If I were infallible, would I need an infallible authority in order to differentiate my opinion from divine revelation? Yes or no.

    Like

  103. Darryl,

    “So you’re in a superior position because one officer claims to be infallible?”

    If the authority actually is infallible, would the fallible follower be in a superior position? According to arguments above, the answer is no – fallibility of the follower precludes any such benefit. Do you believe that?

    “Do you believe all claims of people in contact with God?”

    Nope. Just as NT believers had to distinguish between competing claimants to divine authority, believers today have to distinguish and evaluate the credibility of competing claimants. Those who make no claim at all weed themselves out, just as random rabbi did.

    “But your knowledge of such authority is fallible.”

    So it was for NT believers. Did that mean they weren’t in a different position than followers of random rabbi’s authority or could never know irreformable truth?

    “Again the Holy Spirit to the ready.”

    Do you believe all claims of people in contact with the Holy Spirit?

    “What’s the problem?”

    Well, there isn’t a problem, unless you posit mere fallibility of people entails Rome cannot serve as a principled means for RC believers to distinguish reformable opinion from irreformable divine truth. If you posit that, you have to explain why that doesn’t apply to NT followers of Christ/Apostles.

    ” Jesus said he’d send not an infallible bishop but the Holy Spirit. ”

    The Protestant False Dichotomy machine fires again. Jesus said he’d send the Holy Spirit to protect and guide His church.

    “Say “no” to epistemology, “yes” to pneumatology.”

    Or you can say yes to faith and reason.

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  104. Cletus,

    If I were infallible, would I need an authority professing infallible authority in order to discern divine truth from my opinion.

    Like

  105. @Brandon,

    ” I hope you know this is not intended with any malice, but you are deeply confused, and have been ever since you’ve been commenting on blogs.”
    I am no more deeply confused than anyone else that has converted. Don’t presume to tell me how I think. I may not articulate clearly enough but my reasons are as sound as anyone else’s. CtC( and Ed Feser) saved me from losing my faith in Christianity.

    That is really sad and disappointing for me because I know the angst that you felt was real and you now truly believe the angst has been resolved by the “argument CtC founded.” My concern, however, is that you have consistently demonstrated an inability to understand the fundamental issues.”
    Why don’t you tell me what I don’t understand? I agree with Cletus. Does he not understand the issues?
    The Reformed have this penchant for attacking the intelligence of women. I don’t appreciate that.

    ” You think you have something you do not have, and my fear is that when you realize this at some point later in your life you (or your family) will become disillusioned with Christianity.”

    Again, you are not an authrity over me or a close friend. Articulate to me what you think that I think I have but don’t.
    I am in the company of great English, American, French, Jewish converts of the 19th and 20th centuries, like Newman, Knox, Belloc, Tolkein, Stein, Maritain, Kreeft and so on. If they are mistaken too, point me to their reasons for converting and demonstrate what was wrong with their reasoning.

    “IMO, one way you can work to become a more thoughtful contributor & Christian would be to honestly address Jeff’s question.”

    I have below.

    Here is Jeff’s question again:

    “Take any proposition X that you believe the church teaches. If you do not have an infallible chain of evidence that gives you infallible knowledge that the church teaches X, how do you know without doubt that X is true?”

    Okay I will attempt this. How about the veneration of Mary, mother of Jesus?
    P I don’t have an infallible chain, but I don’t need one to lead up to a infallible declaration that Mary was kept from original sin and all actual sin. If there had ever been a teaching within the church that veneration of Mary was wrong and not permitted on the basis that she was sinful and therefore cannot help us by her prayers, I believe it would have been brought to the forefront and waved under the noses of priests and bishops who condoned the opposite.
    There are early icons of Mary that weren’t painted over. But most glaring is that there is no Catholic ( who remained Catholic) that openly condemned Marilogy. The church took care to weed out all kinds of heresy( including justfication by faith one) but missed this “so-called” idolatry, demonstrates that the Church always had it and taught it.
    Same thing goes for the sacrifice of the Mass, real presence, veneration of relics…

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  106. JRC: “(1) If you are fallible, meaning capable of making an error, then you are capable of making an error in determining or understanding what an infallible source teaches. That’s the definition of “being fallible.””

    Cletus: Sure. That does not entail my knowledge or understanding is therefore errant.

    No such claim has been made. I have claimed that if you are fallible, you are simply capable of making an error. You agree. There is no assertion that you are therefore in error.

    Cletus: Nor does it mean an authority offering an (irreformable) truth and teaching must offer such teachings as reformable or possibly in error.

    No such claim has been made, either.

    So far, your response (other than to agree to (1)) is to rebut two claims I have not made.

    JRC: “(2) If you are capable of making an error in determination or understanding, then there is always a possibility (however small) that you have done so. For if there is no such possibility, then you are not capable of making an error.”

    Cletus: Because I am capable of making errors does not entail I always make an error. Nor does it mean an authority offering an (irreformable) truth and teaching must offer it as reformable or possibly in error.

    Again, these two claims have not been made. At no point do I assert that you always make errors (which would be rude!); nor has our discussion proceeded to the point of discussing authorities.

    JRC: “(3) If there is a possibility that you have erred in determining or understanding proposition X, then there is a possibility that X is mistaken. NOT that the infallible source was mistaken to say X, BUT that the infallible source never said X to begin with.”

    Cletus: Right, so since we’re all fallible, NT believers were in no different position under Christ/Apostles than those under a random rabbi. You would be in no different position than the rest of us if Christ/Apostles materialized in your study this evening for an all-nighter discussion. But I doubt you believe that, though maybe I’m wrong – I’m fallible.

    Again, our discussion has not proceeded to the point of discussing authorities. It has centered on a narrow point: If you, the listener are capable of making an error, then you, the listener cannot assert that you know with certainty that any authority whatsoever has actually said X.

    So far, you have agreed to (1). Points (2) and (3) are logical restatements of (1), so you should agree to (2) and (3) also.

    So far, you have not rebutted any of those three points. It would be overly high-handed to assume that you therefore agree with me — but you don’t have any disagreement so far.

    JRC: “(4) And that means that for all propositions X, you must (if you are honest) put an asterisk next to it, with a footnote saying “assuming, of course, that this is what the church teaches.””

    Cletus: Nope, I do not have to asterisk every proposition I hold.

    Point (4) follows directly from (1), so unless you can rebut (1) you must either

    * accept (4),
    * provide a reason that (4) does not actually follow from (1),
    * or else admit that you are irrational in your belief.

    To recap: (1) You are fallible (we agree), meaning capable of error; (2) It follows by definition that you have a non-zero possibility of making an error; (3) you therefore have a non-zero possibility of being mistaken to think that your infallible authority teaches X.

    (4) It follows that you cannot know without possibility of error that X is true.

    To make this concrete, if Shemuel came back from seeing Jesus by the sea of Galilee and told his wife “the Teacher says ‘Blessed are the chic, for they shall inherit the earth'”, then he is mistaken — not because Jesus is fallible or because Jesus presented his teachings as fallible, but because Shemuel was mistaken about what Jesus taught.

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  107. @ Susan:

    Hi. Hope you’re well.

    You said, There is no such thing as fallible knowledge. What we hold in our minds correlates with reality or it doesn’t.

    Let’s tease some things out. When what we hold in our minds correlates with reality, that’s called correspondence. If a proposition X corresponds to reality, it is true.

    If X is true and it is logically impossible for you to believe otherwise (for whatever reason), then you infallibly believe X.

    So fallible knowledge means that X is true, but you could actually disbelieve under some circumstance. Infallible knowledge means that X is true, and you couldn’t believe otherwise.

    The reason that Paul was infallible when penning the epistles is that he wrote under the direct influence of the Spirit — it would not have been possible for him to believe error while being guided by the Spirit (per 2 Peter).

    The reason that you and I are fallible when believing what Paul wrote is that, while we might truly understand what he meant and believe it, nevertheless we have the capability of getting it wrong. We have fallible knowledge.

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  108. Dear Jeff,

    Thank you for asking. I’m doing well. Hope you and your sweet Cagletts are enjoying summer break so far:)

    Now Jeff you said this:
    “The reason that you and I are fallible when believing what Paul wrote is that, while we might truly understand what he meant and believe it, nevertheless we have the capability of getting it wrong. We have fallible knowledge”

    Individually we do have the capability of not understanding what Paul meant. St. Peter said so:)
    If each individual believes and trusts that the Holy Spirit is directing him, how does each know when other professing Christians are wrong except by being certain that he himself is right?

    I don’t understand what you mean when you say that we can truly understand Paul yet get wrong what we supposedly understood.
    Do you believe that truth is out there but unattainable?
    How many children do you have? Can you answer that with certainty?

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  109. @ Susan: Good summer, yes. Visits to grandparents, taking up archery, etc.

    You said: Individually we do have the capability of not understanding what Paul meant. St. Peter said so:)

    Yes, exactly so.

    Susan: If each individual believes and trusts that the Holy Spirit is directing him, how does each know when other professing Christians are wrong except by being certain that he himself is right?

    If I say “the Bible teaches X” and you say “the Bible teaches not-X”, there are three possibilities: I’m wrong, you’re wrong, or we’re both wrong (the Bible might not say anything about X, or something different from both X and not-X). In this case, we could not both be right in different senses, but that’s often a fourth possibility.

    Where does the work of the Spirit come into this? Well, the directing of the Spirit is according to His own purposes (John 3.8). He does indeed guide His people, but that guidance doesn’t provide infallibility. That is, He helps, but does not provide full revelation.

    So I can’t say, “The Spirit is directing me, so I must be right!”

    Nor can I say “Since we disagree, one of us isn’t being directed by the Spirit!” This was Luther’s error at Marburg.

    So what can we say? We can say, “Let us search out what the Scripture teaches, seeking to make good and necessary inferences, and trusting in the Spirit’s direction.” That’s what God calls us to do (Eg 1 Tim 4.13 – 16; Acts 17.11)

    I’ve been ruminating on 1 Cor 13 in relationship to our discussions here:

    8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

    Several things are of interest:

    (1) Knowledge in this life is paralleled to “the partial.” in vv 8 – 10. That partial knowledge is paralleled to seeing in a mirror dimly in v 12.

    When I hear you, MWF, Cletus, and others (whether Catholic or Reformed) insisting that we can have knowledge without possibility of error, I hear a yearning to get past the “dimness” of this life.

    Now, some might argue that Paul doesn’t mean that our knowledge has a possibility of error, but rather that it is incomplete. Such a one might think that we know A, B, and C with no possibility of error, but we don’t know X, Y or Z.

    But that’s not how the mirror metaphor works. A dim image in a mirror is blurred; every feature is seen, yes, but not with 100% fidelity to the original.

    Like this:

    (2) In some sense, the quest for knowledge can be a competitor to love. When I reflect on how the conversations have gone, with many a hard work spoken, it strikes me that the source of much of that conflict is the overweening desire to be right.

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  110. Susan Vader says: Please don’t try to play psychologist. How would you like it if I did that to you?
    Susan, it’s not psychology it’s –

    -encouraging one another all the more as you see the day drawing near. Heb 10:25

    -it’s saying, the Holy Spirit says, “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart; saying God fixes a certain day, “Today,”, “TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, dO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS. Heb 3:7; 4:7

    -and similar to Mrsw saying to me (because I added Phil 2:13 to her Phil 2:12, don’t you fear and tremble Ali?, it’s saying let’s fear and trembling
    …unlike….
    …”The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk; and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.” Rev 920 -21

    …fallible, infallible, infallibly fallible, fallibly infallible, infallibly infallible……Jesus says “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

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  111. James Young,”unless you posit mere fallibility of people entails Rome cannot serve as a principled means for RC believers to distinguish reformable opinion from irreformable divine truth. If you posit that, you have to explain why that doesn’t apply to NT followers of Christ/Apostles.”

    No I don’t. Your assertion assumes papal infallibility. That is precisely what is at issue. And the Bible doesn’t presume an infallible interpreter other than the Holy Spirit. And then you say STM and that fixes it.

    You’re all T&M. No S.

    Like

  112. and because the guys around love to sing…
    … they sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty;Righteous and true are Your ways,King of the nations! “Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy; For ALL THE NATIONS WILL COME AND WORSHIP BEFORE YOU, FOR YOUR RIGHTEOUS ACTS HAVE BEEN REVEALED.” Rev 15:3-4

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  113. James Young, follow your pontiff. Get a Protestant to write your comments:

    Pope Francis raised eyebrows this week by choosing a Protestant theologian, Marcelo Figueroa, to edit a new Argentine edition of L’Osservatore Romano.

    From September, Figueroa, who is a personal friend of the Holy Father and former head of Argentina’s Biblical Society, will begin editing the edition that will combine eight pages of exclusive local content with the weekly Spanish-language edition of L’Osservatore Romano.

    His appointment follows reportedly increasing opposition to the Pope in his native country.

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  114. Jeff:
    When I hear you, MWF, Cletus, and others (whether Catholic or Reformed) insisting that we can have knowledge without possibility of error, I hear a yearning to get past the “dimness” of this life.>>>>

    No. There has to be some kind of knowledge that is beyond the possibility of error.

    Your own religion makes that kind of claim as well, but only for Scripture. Tradition is not infallible in your religion.

    Scripture is your only infallible rule of faith and practice. So your claim that there is no such thing as infallible truth is actually a contradiction of what you claim to believe.

    I would rather go with someone like Ali who does actually believe that the Bible is infallible and inerrant. Yet you seem to criticize those who are solo scriptura believers. What she says she says out of love for her Savior and the Word of God. I can respect that.

    The Holy Spirit did not leaves us to grope around as lone individuals, trying to discover what is and what is not infallible Scripture. Otherwise what does it do to Jesus’ claim that He would lead His Apostles and all believers along with them into all Truth?

    Reformed Christianity’s claim that you have a fallible list of infallible books – i.e., Scripture – is nonsense. What good is a fallible list of books that are infallible? Even your infallible source is reformable, then.

    No one disputes the fact that the Church of Luther’s time needed reforming. The counter Reformation dealt with the real issues at hand and kept the Church from being destroyed altogether. God’s providence.

    What are you doing? Arguing that there is no such animal as infallible truth. If there is, we cannot know for sure what it is. We can make our best guesses. IOW, the focus is all on what man is able to do, not on what the Holy Spirit has done.

    Yours is the ultimate in man made religion since you put yourself as a judge over Scripture itself. Who gave you that authority? Answer: you gave it to yourself.

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  115. Webfoot:

    There has to be some kind of knowledge that is beyond the possibility of error.

    Yes. It is God’s knowledge. You don’t have God’s knowledge. You are a creature and will ever be fallible. That’s what it means to be a creature.

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  116. JRC: I hear a yearning to get past the “dimness” of this life.

    MWF: No. There has to be some kind of knowledge that is beyond the possibility of error.

    Does there? I can understand saying that the word of God is beyond possibility of error. And I believe that.

    But I don’t understand saying that you, Mermaid, have to have some kind of knowledge beyond the possibility of error. It sounds like … well, that you’re yearning to get past the dimness of this life.

    I mean, what you are saying is that you, Mermaid, are infallible in your knowledge of whatever the church teaches. That’s a pretty audacious claim.

    MWF: So your claim that there is no such thing as infallible truth …

    I made no such claim. I said that fallible humans can have no infallible knowledge of infallible truth. When Jesus spoke, His words were infallible truth. When His listeners heard, they frequently misunderstood.

    MWF: Yet you seem to criticize those who are solo scriptura believers.

    Sure do, but that has nothing to do with whether I believe the Bible is infallible and inerrant. Ali and I share that assumption.

    Where we depart is in our method of understanding the Bible. The Reformed approach is generally tradition-positive, but not tradition-determinative. The confessions give the “wisdom of many counselors” and provide a guard against idiosyncratic interpretation.

    Ali’s approach seems to be tradition-negative, in that she appears to hold tradition in suspicion.

    MWF: Reformed Christianity’s claim that you have a fallible list of infallible books – i.e., Scripture – is nonsense. What good is a fallible list of books that are infallible?

    You mean rather that you don’t understand the claim.

    Science is a fallible understanding of the infallible providence of God. What good is it? Turns out, quite a bit.

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  117. Mermaid, but you don’t know if you’re going to heaven because you don’t know if you’ll die in mortal sin.

    Soteriology trumps epistemology for real Christians.

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  118. Jeff,

    Archery sounds like a lot of fun. I used to do pretty well skeet shooting, but archery is so much more romantic.

    I want you to know that I will address what you’ve been talking about, but it won’t be til early next week.

    Take care,
    Susan

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  119. MWF: No. There has to be some kind of knowledge that is beyond the possibility of error.

    Does there?>>>>

    Yes.

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  120. Jeff:
    You mean rather that you don’t understand the claim.>>>

    No. I mean that your claim to having a fallible list of infallible books is based on an equivocation. It is like a round square, bats flying out of your nose, or 2 + 2 equaling something other than 4.

    You have to reform the statement “Scripture is our only infallible rule of faith and practice.” You don’t REALLY mean “infallible.” You mean something else. You mean that there is something called “infallible Scripture” out there somewhere, but we really can’t know what that is because of our human inability.

    Therefore your system is based on human fallibility and inability – which it actually is, come to think of it.

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  121. D. G. Hart says:
    July 16, 2016 at 1:42 pm
    Mermaid, but you don’t know if you’re going to heaven because you don’t know if you’ll die in mortal sin.

    Soteriology trumps epistemology for real Christians.>>>

    I have the hope of eternal life, just as any Christian does.

    It is odd that your epistemology cannot tell you for sure what 2 + 2 equals, but it can tell you for sure that you are part of the elect and therefore will go to Heaven no matter what.

    It doesn’t add up.

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  122. MWF: I mean that your claim to having a fallible list of infallible books is based on an equivocation.

    Please share what “equivocation” you have in mind.

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  123. Hi Jeff and Robert,

    I said that I wouldn’t be responding until early next week. My mind is on this topic so heavily that I just want to throw something at you to think about.

    I was reading an essay on the inspiration and inerrancy of Holy Scripture and it jumped out at me that since the authors of sacred scripture were human, writing only what God wanted them to write and no more, were still helping to author divine scripture. They as fallible humans were asserting what the Holy Spirit wanted and were free from all error. They weren’t possessed as in taken over by God and so were actually doing the work, using their particular literary skill and style, so what kept them from writing error, since humans can never know with certainty what God says?

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  124. @ Susan: Fair question.

    As Peter says, the writers of Scripture were enabled by the Spirit to write the very words of God: For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

    That is, they spoke the words of God in a special act of revelation.

    Now — you might hypothesize that there could also be a (large) number of special acts of interpretation, so that the Spirit enables perfect understanding of what was written. And given the many, many times that even the disciples misunderstood Jesus, we would have to think that those special acts are rare, if indeed they exist.

    But Scripture doesn’t indicate that such a thing happens, so we are justly skeptical of such a claim.

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  125. Dear Jeff,
    Let me ask a different way: What percentage was written by the Holy Spirit and what percentage was written by men?

    Thank you in advance for your responds:)

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  126. @ Mermaid (and others):

    For interest’s sake and not to directly prove a point, I would invite you to look at the series called “Brain Games” that shows how our perceptions are mediated by the brain. Think about the infamous “Dress” — was it white and gold or black and blue?

    Brain Games Season 1 Episode 1

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  127. Well, again according to Peter, 100% was written by men, carried along by the Spirit. In other words, the writing of Scripture was miraculous. The work of the Spirit enable the writers to do what humans cannot do of themselves.

    I guess slightly less than 100% was written by men, since the 10 commandments were written by the finger of God. 🙂

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  128. Jeff Cagle says:
    July 16, 2016 at 6:03 pm
    MWF: I mean that your claim to having a fallible list of infallible books is based on an equivocation.

    Please share what “equivocation” you have in mind.>>>>

    The phrase at the very least uses unclear language. In what sense can something be both fallible and infallible at the same time?

    The greater question has to do with how the Holy Spirit can and does use fallible human beings to accomplish infallible ends.

    That has nothing to do with how your or my brains work. It has to do with how the Holy Spirit works.

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  129. MWF: In what sense can something be both fallible and infallible at the same time?

    It can’t. The list is fallible; the books that are the word of God are not. Two different objects, two different properties. No equivocation. And, no unclarity either.

    MWF: The greater question has to do with how the Holy Spirit can and does use fallible human beings to accomplish infallible ends. That has nothing to do with how your or my brains work. It has to do with how the Holy Spirit works.

    So you believe that the Spirit miraculously gives infallible understanding to everyone who reads and believes?

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  130. MWF: In what sense can something be both fallible and infallible at the same time?

    It can’t. The list is fallible; the books that are the word of God are not. Two different objects, two different properties. No equivocation. And, no unclarity either.>>>>

    Here is the definition of “infallible”, reflecting common usage. Which of these common usages best describes what you mean by “infallible”?

    adjective
    1.
    absolutely trustworthy or sure:
    an infallible rule.
    2.
    unfailing in effectiveness or operation; certain:
    an infallible remedy.
    3.
    not fallible; exempt from liability to error, as persons, their judgment, or pronouncements:
    an infallible principle.
    4.
    Roman Catholic Church. immune from fallacy or liability to error in expounding matters of faith or morals by virtue of the promise made by Christ to the Church.
    noun
    5.
    an infallible person or thing.

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  131. Darryl,

    “No I don’t.”

    Let’s break it down.
    1. Christ and the Apostles were infallible, offering irreformable dogma, and claiming the authority/ability to do so.
    2. NT believers were fallible.
    3. Christ and the Apostles were a principled means for NT believers to distinguish divine truth from opinion, a consequence of 1.
    So far we all agree I presume.

    1a. Now, assume hypothetically Rome is infallible, offering irreformable dogma, and claiming the authority/ability to do so.
    2a. RC believers are fallible.
    3a. Rome is not a principled means for RC believers to distinguish divine truth from opinion – indeed, it can’t possibly be. Why? Because 2a.

    So explain how 1a-3a is consistent with 1-3.

    “You guys are such evangelicals. You want such certainty. Read Scott Clark on the Quest for Illegitimate Religious Certainty.”

    After that, you can read http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2010/12/desperately-seeking-certainty-or-the-obedience-of-faith/ – specifically on point 3.

    or elsewhere where Cross wrote: “The problem with the claim that Catholics are on a quest for illegitimate religious certainty is that ‘illegitimate’ is defined in a question-begging way, i.e. one that presumes that Christ did not establish His Church with a living visible Magisterial authority by which doctrinal and moral questions could be definitively resolved. While from a Protestant point of view the Catholic seems guilty of QIRC (i.e. Quest for Illegitimate Religious Certainty), if in fact Christ did establish a living visible Magisterium, then the Protestant is guilty of what we could call NODIMA (Neglect Of Divinely Instituted Magisterial Authority). So charging the Catholic with QIRC is question-begging, and in order to resolve the disagreement on this point we have to step back and examine whether or not Christ did in fact establish a visible living Magisterial authority in His Church.”

    and Liccione: “If that’s the case, then what is there, other than personal opinion, to tell us that certain doctrines now held as “biblical” by people like Clark will not also end up being repudiated as “unbiblical”? After all, no man or church is ever infallible. Right?
    It will be replied, of course, that sola-advocates will never surrender the “essentials,” such as what we find in the Creed of 381. But the thing is, we see that all the time, even now. For any doctrine you pick, you can find a church that either denies it or views it as merely optional. And why shouldn’t they? If no man or church is infallible, and Christian liberty of conscience is paramount, then any Christian may legitimately change their mind about what is and is not “essential,” and no man or church has the divinely granted authority to proclaim that such a person is wrong. Or right, of course. We’re all “pickers and choosers.””

    The “illegitimate” certainty RCs “want” is the same we see in the NT:

    “So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!”
    “That you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught. ”
    “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive”
    “But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
    “Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?”
    “And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen.”
    “And have mercy on those who doubt”
    “Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?””
    “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”
    “But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.”
    “And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?””
    “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.”
    “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever”
    “If I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth”
    “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. ”
    “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.”
    “He who despiseth these things, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given in us His Holy Spirit”.
    “He that heareth you, heareth Me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth Me; and he that despiseth Me, despiseth Him that sent Me”.
    “reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments.”
    “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment”
    “Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you”
    “make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.”

    As Newman said: “This is what faith was in the time of the Apostles, as no one can deny; and what it was then, it must be now, else it ceases to be the same thing. I say, it certainly was this in the Apostles’ time, for you know they preached to the world that Christ was the Son of God, that He was born of a Virgin, that He had ascended on high, that He would come again to judge all, the living and the dead. Could the world see all this? could it prove it? how then were men to receive it? why did so many embrace it? on the word of the Apostles, who were, as their powers showed, messengers from God. Men were told to submit their reason to a living authority. Moreover, whatever an Apostle said, his converts were bound to believe; when they entered the Church, they entered it in order to learn. The Church was their teacher; they did not come to argue, to examine, to pick and choose, but to accept whatever was put before them. No one doubts, no one can doubt this, of those primitive times. A Christian was bound to take without doubting all that the Apostles declared to be revealed; if the Apostles spoke, he had to yield an internal assent of his mind; it would not be enough to keep silence, it would not be enough not to oppose: it was not allowable to credit in a measure; it was not allowable to doubt…

    I think I may assume that this virtue, which was exercised by the first Christians, is not known at all among Protestants now; or at least if there are instances of it, it is exercised towards those, I mean their own teachers and divines, who expressly disclaim that they are fit objects of it, and who exhort their people to judge for themselves…If men believed now as they did in the times of the Apostles, they could not doubt nor change. No one can doubt whether a word spoken by God is to be believed; of course it is…..

    Such is the only rational, consistent account of faith; but so far are Protestants from professing it, that they laugh at the very notion of it (hello Oldlife). They laugh at the notion itself of men pinning their faith (as they express themselves) upon Pope or Council; they think it simply superstitious and narrow-minded, to profess to believe just what the Church believes, and to assent to whatever she will say in time to come on matters of doctrine. That is, they laugh at the bare notion of doing what Christians undeniably did in the time of the Apostles. Observe, they do not merely ask whether the Catholic Church has a claim to teach, has authority, has the gifts;—this is a reasonable question;—no, they think that the very state of mind which such a claim involves in those who admit it, namely, the disposition to accept without reserve or question, that this is slavish. They call it priestcraft to insist on this surrender of the reason, and superstition to make it. That is, they quarrel with the very state of mind which all Christians had in the age of the Apostles…”

    Does such type of certainty entail omniscience and having no difficulties or preclude faith seeking understanding and walking by faith not sight? Nope, questions and growing understanding are not equivalent to doubt. As Newman famously said, “Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt… There of course may be difficulties in the evidence; but I am speaking of difficulties intrinsic to the doctrines themselves, or to their relations with each other. A man may be annoyed that he cannot work out a mathematical problem, of which the answer is or is not given to him, without doubting that it admits of an answer, or that a certain particular answer is the true one.”

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  132. MWF: The greater question has to do with how the Holy Spirit can and does use fallible human beings to accomplish infallible ends. That has nothing to do with how your or my brains work. It has to do with how the Holy Spirit works.

    Jeff:
    So you believe that the Spirit miraculously gives infallible understanding to everyone who reads and believes?>>>

    No, I do not believe that.

    I believe that the Holy Spirit who inspired Scripture infallibly is fully able to infallibly communicate the contents of Scripture to the Church. That includes the index. I further believe that He did so.

    The Holy Spirit is not limited by man’s limitations. That is the miracle.

    All Scripture is God-breathed. He has made known Scripture known to the Church – the list of books and their contents. No reason to wonder or doubt.

    You have some theory about how people’s brains work. It’s interesting, but I wish you would focus more on how the Holy Spirit works when it comes to the inspiration and infallibility of Scripture.

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  133. Jeff Cagle says: I guess slightly less than 100% was written by men, since the 10 commandments were written by the finger of God.

    to clarify:
    -Deut 9:10 The LORD gave me the two tablets of stone written by the finger of God;.
    – 2nd time: Ex 34:1 Now the LORD said to Moses, “Cut out for yourself two stone tablets like the former ones, and I WILL WRITE on the tablets the words that were on the former tablets which you shattered…27 Then the LORD said to Moses, “WRITE DOWN these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” 28 …And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.

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  134. James Young, funny how nothing you quote from the NT says a thing about an infallible bishop. Like I say, where’s the S in your STM?

    And whatever happened to salvation? You don’t have certainty about that and Trent condemned Protestantism for claiming assurance of faith.

    Hmmm.

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  135. MWF: I believe that the Holy Spirit who inspired Scripture infallibly is fully able to infallibly communicate the contents of Scripture to the Church.

    I believe God is able to do that as well. If there were a canonical list that the entire church agreed was canonical, I would take that as strong evidence that He had done so.

    But since a large chunk of the medieval church (including Jerome and Athanasius) disagreed with Trent on the canonical status of the deuteros, and the EOs, RCs, and Prots likewise disagree, and the RC canon is not the same as the Septuagint which you are so fond of mentioning, it is clear that there is no such infallible canonical list. If there were, the whole church would know about it, and would not have waited until 1546 to say so.

    Ergo, God — though fully capable of doing so — did not infallibly communicate the boundaries of the canon to the Church.

    Your “T” and your “M” are telling you different things, my dear. Now what?

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  136. MWF: MWF: …but I wish you would focus more on how the Holy Spirit works when it comes to the inspiration and infallibility of Scripture.

    You must have missed the interchange above with Susan. It’s fairly straightforward, and per Peter: The Spirit worked by “carrying along” the writers of the Scripture in such a manner that they spoke the words God intended.

    It was miraculous. There’s really not a problem there.

    The problem occurs when that infallible truth has to somehow get from its original form to your brain. That’s the chain of evidence that takes you from the original infallible text — Scripture, or creed if you believe church teaching is infallible — through its various translations and copies and into your hands, eyes, and brain.

    Is that chain of evidence likewise infallible? If not, then you have a possibility of believing something in error. If there is no such possibility, then you must logically assert that the chain of evidence AND your understanding are both infallible.

    Those are your only two options. Either you could be in error, or else you couldn’t. If the former, then you don’t have mathematical certainty. If not, then you are claiming infallibility for yourself and for every link in the chain of evidence.

    This isn’t hard!

    Hey, have a good weekend.

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  137. Jeff:
    Ergo, God — though fully capable of doing so — did not infallibly communicate the boundaries of the canon to the Church.>>>

    Did the Holy Spirit tell you that he did not do that?

    You need to say that in your opinion, God did not infallibly communicate the boundaries of the canon to the Church. You stand on no other authority than that of your own opinion, which is also subject to change.

    I don’t think that’s enough, especially since Protestants are all over the place on which books are inspired or even whether or not there is such a thing as infallibility. Your appeal to consensus is weak at best.

    If by consensus you mean the majority opinion, then Protestants lose. The consensus position is that the Deuterocanonical books are inspired Scripture. You guys are out of step with the consensus.

    If by consensus you mean the least number of books and Biblical passages that everyone who calls himself Christian accepts as authoritative and inspired, then we would have to go with the red letter advocates – except the story of the woman caught in adultery.

    Hey, you have a wonderful Lord’s Day. Catch you later.

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  138. Jeff,

    “To make this concrete, if Shemuel came back from seeing Jesus by the sea of Galilee and told his wife “the Teacher says ‘Blessed are the chic, for they shall inherit the earth’”, then he is mistaken — not because Jesus is fallible or because Jesus presented his teachings as fallible, but because Shemuel was mistaken about what Jesus taught.”

    Correct. That does not mean Shemuel can never actually attain to certainty and the (irreformable) truth of what Jesus actually taught. NT believers erred or misunderstood at times. By virtue and exercise of Christ/Apostles authority, those errors and misunderstandings could be definitively clarified and corrected – iteratively if necessary.
    More importantly to the thread, if Shemuel was mistaken, that does not entail Jesus was fallible or presented his teachings as fallible, as you agree. Which has been my point – fallibility of the submitting agent does not entail the authority can and must only offer reformable teaching, which Protestantism does.

    So, as I said elsewhere,
    Let’s break it down.
    1. Christ and the Apostles were infallible, offering irreformable dogma, and claiming the authority/ability to do so.
    2. NT believers were fallible.
    3. Christ and the Apostles were a principled means for NT believers to distinguish divine truth from opinion, a consequence of 1.
    So far we all agree I presume.

    1a. Now, assume hypothetically Rome is infallible, offering irreformable dogma, and claiming the authority/ability to do so.
    2a. RC believers are fallible.
    3a. Rome is not a principled means for RC believers to distinguish divine truth from opinion – indeed, it can’t possibly be. Why? Because 2a.

    So explain how 1a-3a is consistent with 1-3. If you’re not arguing 3a, which seems to be the case per your Shemuel statement, that’s fine; all the ink spilled over personal fallibility simply masked the heart of the issue.

    “If there were a canonical list that the entire church agreed was canonical, I would take that as strong evidence that He had done so.”

    This presupposes some principled definition and identification of the bodies comprising the “entire church”. What do you propose that is?

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  139. Cletus,

    If I were infallible, would I need a body proposing infallibility in order to have a principled means to distinguish truth from opinion?

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  140. @ Cletus:

    Thanks. I’ll be out of pocket for a bit, but I sense we’re now talking about the same question.

    CVD: By virtue and exercise of Christ/Apostles authority, those errors and misunderstandings could be definitively clarified and corrected – iteratively if necessary.

    Right, that’s what I would do also. Here’s the thing: Iterative methods (the topic of my Master’s work) don’t produce certainty.

    Instead, they give results that (under good circumstances) produce ever-decreasing, non-zero errors. There are a few toy problems that actually produce zero error, but they are trivial.

    Think on that (or look up solving by Bisection or Newton’s Method) and I’ll get back sometime next week.

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  141. James Young,

    1a. Now, assume hypothetically Rome is infallible, offering irreformable dogma, and claiming the authority/ability to do so.
    2a. RC believers are fallible.
    3a. Rome is not a principled means for RC believers to distinguish divine truth from opinion – indeed, it can’t possibly be. Why? Because 2a.

    Should it be?

    1a. Now, assume hypothetically Rome is infallible, offering irreformable dogma, and claiming the authority/ability to do so.
    2a. James Young faints.
    3a. James Young picks himself up from floor.
    4a. RC believers are fallible.
    5a. Rome is not a principled means for RC believers to distinguish divine truth from opinion – indeed, it can’t possibly be. Why? Because 4a.

    You keep saying things that turn irreformable dogma into new revelation and then you deny that you’ve done so.

    Jesus and the apostles didn’t offer dogma. Scripture is different from dogma. It is God’s word. Dogma is an interpretation of God’s word. Jesus and the apostles said things that went into the canon. They didn’t write encyclicals.

    And they didn’t have a pope saying what was infallible and what wasn’t.

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  142. Darryl,

    Jesus and the apostles didn’t offer dogma. Scripture is different from dogma. It is God’s word. Dogma is an interpretation of God’s word. Jesus and the apostles said things that went into the canon. They didn’t write encyclicals.

    And this, at the end of the day, is why Cletus’ attempt to equate modern RCs with first-century people who actually sat under the Lord and His Apostles fails. Any interpretation that the Apostles and Jesus gave that we actually have became Scripture. So if the successive church has the same authority, Nicea should be Scripture, various encyclicals should be Scripture, etc. That they are not betrays a small amount of humility left on Rome’s part that says “As important as our words are, they do not rise to the level of Scripture and should not rise to the level of Scripture. The actual words of the Apostles and prophets bear a unique, unrepeatable authority.”

    They just need to be consistent. If the Magisterium has the parallel authority to the Apostles, the Magisterium gives us Scripture and a Mormon view of the church as an ongoing organ of revelation should be adopted.

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  143. Webfoot,

    You need to say that in your opinion, God did not infallibly communicate the boundaries of the canon to the Church. You stand on no other authority than that of your own opinion, which is also subject to change.

    If you are going to get radically subjective, then you need to note that in your opinion, God ordained Rome as infallible. You can’t get out of your own mind, so what you are standing on in a proximate sense is what your fallible mind has received from Rome and fallibly interpreted to your will.

    I don’t think that’s enough, especially since Protestants are all over the place on which books are inspired or even whether or not there is such a thing as infallibility. Your appeal to consensus is weak at best.

    Last time I looked, the Reformed, the Anglicans, the Lutherans, the Baptists, the Methodists, and even the Pentecostals all have the same books in their canon. I suppose you could find some fringe persons or group that differs, but I can find plenty of fringe RC groups that differ from you.

    If by consensus you mean the majority opinion, then Protestants lose. The consensus position is that the Deuterocanonical books are inspired Scripture. You guys are out of step with the consensus.

    No, the majority position among all groups with some kind of claim to historical continuity with the Great Tradition (RC, EO, Lutherans, Reformed, Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists) is that the 66-book Protestant canon is Scripture. All groups agree on this. RC and EO don’t have the same canon as one another, but they do agree that the books we have as Protestants are Scripture. The history is murky, but we do know that those books are agreed upon. So since that is the point of agreement among all Christian groups (and even Rome calls us Christian now), that’s where we should look.

    And there we find:

    No indulgences
    No papacy
    No mono episcopate
    And so on.

    So either all of those things are inventions that don’t come from the Apostles, or the Apostles taught them somewhere not in the canon. But for those that claim the latter, we’ve yet to see any words from the Apostles teaching such things. So just on the matter of a non-fideistic assumption that Rome is true because Rome says she is true (a position with no objective grounding in the actual deposit on which all are agreed), it is much safer to go Protestant if you want to follow what the Apostles actually taught.

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  144. “Can you believe in Christ but not in the authority and infallibility of the Bible? You can try but …”

    “It is also important to note that Jesus never quoted or alluded to any apocryphal works. Why was this so? “

    “When examining the testimony of Jesus about the Scriptures, we have to accept one of three possibilities.
    The first is that there are no errors in the Old Testament, just as Jesus taught.
    Second, there are errors, but Jesus didn’t know about them.
    Third, there are errors and Jesus knew about them, but He covered them up.”

    “Reason cannot be allowed to override revelation, nor can the authority of Christ be usurped by those He created. Nothing less than the nature of God is at stake.” http://www.gty.org/Blog/B160718

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  145. Darryl,

    “You keep saying things that turn irreformable dogma into new revelation and then you deny that you’ve done so.”

    This isn’t difficult – we have 2 situations: an infallible authority giving new revelation, or an infallible authority expounding/protecting that revelation. In neither case is the epistemic condition of the submitting agent to that authority changed – NT believers weren’t mindmelding or becoming omnisciencent and non-human, RCs aren’t mindmelding or becoming omniscient and non-human – teachings in both situations have to pass through the fallible minds of the followers. So if a person argues both 1-3 and 1a-3a, there needs to be some explanation of consistency. If not, 3a needs to be dropped – dropping it doesn’t entail Rome is right.

    “Jesus and the apostles didn’t offer dogma. ”

    Okay, this doesn’t change anything as anything they did offer – however you like to characterize it – still had to be processed by fallible humans, just as anything Rome offers – however you like to characterize it – still has to be processed by fallible humans.

    Like

  146. Good Morning Robert( is it morning where you are?)

    Conserning your conversation with MWF, I want to point out that though of course all in the Protestant tradition that goes back to the 16th century have the same Canon. But that doesn’t tell us anything about each denominations liturgy and Eucharistic celebration(something you would think shared a scripture would provide if scripture is directing the regulative principle). I went to one URC that had communion every Sunday and another that celebrated once per month. Lutherans and Anglicans believe in a real spiritual presence that is different from the Calvinists. Can scripture tell us the “is”of the Eucharistic Host or is that wisdom within one of the different traditions? Isn’t this how Tradition comes to our aide?
    To simply say that it isn’t essential is to beg the question…..wouldn’t you agree?

    The Eastern Orthodox do have the same understanding on the Sacrifice of the Mass. How does the scripture that each share help their shared view? Or are they each relying on an uninscripurated tradition that is a human invention? If you believe the latter, have you ever wondered how the Church could have come up with such a view AND never addressed the error when they had the scriptures?

    oca.org/questions

    Yesterday, I had two so-called nondenominational Christians come to my door telling me that scripture never advocated that we as Christians are to worship on Sunday. They told me that the tradition is in error because the bible never says that we must worship on Sunday. They said the scripture is our only authority.
    When I pointed out that the Catholic Church told us by counsel, and not by any one person, what books were inspired scripture, she looked at me with suspicion, yet she fully trusts the new tradition of her founder( Herbert Armstrong) who is appealing only to the bible.

    Please consider the following article:

    “Isn’t it interesting that the Jews did not have a “closed canon” of Scripture during the time of Christ, before 100, or even after Jabneh? Even during the time of Christ there were competing opinions on what books actually belonged in the Jewish Bible. There were various collections in existence. Sadducees and Samaritans accepted only the Pentateuch, the first five books, whereas the Pharisees accepted a fuller canon including Psalms and the prophets. The Masoretic text did not contain the deuterocanonicals, whereas the widely used Greek Septuagint did.

    This uncertainty continued well into the second century. The discussion over the books of the canon of the Old Testament continued among the Jews long after Jabneh, which demonstrates that the canon was still under discussion in the third century—well beyond the apostolic period. The challenges to canonicity at Jabneh involved only Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon, but the debate over the canon continued past Jabneh, even into the second and third centuries. Even the Hebrew canon accepted by Protestants today was disputed by the Jews for two hundred years after Christ.”

    Like

  147. “Isn’t it interesting that Martin Luther acknowledged the Catholic Church as the custodian of sacred Scripture (note 5, sidebar, page 25) when he wrote, “We concede—as we must—that so much of what they [the Catholic Church] say is true: that the papacy has God’s word and the office of the apostles, and that we have received holy scriptures, baptism, the sacrament, and the pulpit from them. What would we know of these if it were not for them?” Steve Ray

    Here’s the full article:

    http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/the-council-that

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  148. Dear Ali,

    I got some beautiful music to share with you.

    Been listening to Michael Card, John Micheal Talbot and Fernando Ortega a lot since yesterday.
    For some reason I put these artists away when I was Reformed.

    Liked by 1 person

  149. Good Morning Robert( is it morning where you are?)

    Eastern Standard Time (FL)

    Conserning your conversation with MWF, I want to point out that though of course all in the Protestant tradition that goes back to the 16th century have the same Canon. But that doesn’t tell us anything about each denominations liturgy and Eucharistic celebration(something you would think shared a scripture would provide if scripture is directing the regulative principle).

    Scripture doesn’t give us a specific liturgy, so I’d expect it to differ somewhat from place to place, which is basically what we find. East and West (Prot and RC) have different liturgies and as far as I know always have.

    I’d also say that just because the church has the Scripture, that doesn’t mean it will follow the Scripture.

    I went to one URC that had communion every Sunday and another that celebrated once per month. Lutherans and Anglicans believe in a real spiritual presence that is different from the Calvinists. Can scripture tell us the “is” of the Eucharistic Host or is that wisdom within one of the different traditions? Isn’t this how Tradition comes to our aide?

    I suspect that our concern with the “is” of the Eucharistic Host is important, but somewhat overstated. And if it were so important, I’m not sure why it took the Western Church some 1200 years to come to the conclusion of transubstantiation.

    Tradition comes to our aide by helping us to understand divine revelation. So I would say if divine revelation doesn’t tell us about the presence of Christ explicitly or if there is not a good and necessary consequence view that is discernible, then there actually should be a wide latitude of views acceptable as long as they don’t violate other dogmas. I think transubstantiation and consubstantiation both compromise the true humanity of Christ and that if you hold to Chalcedon, you can’t really consistently hold to either one. But people aren’t consistent.

    To simply say that it isn’t essential is to beg the question…..wouldn’t you agree?

    It could be to beg the question depending on what is essential and what isn’t. It seems to me that if there are essential truths (and all of us agree that there are even if we might differ on what they are), God would communicate them clearly. And ultimately, the whole concept of oral tradition that never gets inscripturated just isn’t a very clear way to communicate stuff. There’s no way to adjudicate between the tradition of the RC and EO because neither group can actually give us it (the EO, actually, can give us more of the tradition I think). But if we all agree on Scripture, then that is a firm starting point. And practically, whatever you think about church authority, the three groups that confess that each are heirs in some sense to the so-called (Great Christian tradition) all agree on the 66 book canon. So in this era, 2,000 years removed from the life of Christ, facing a multitude of denominations all with at least an equal claim at the outset to being the church Christ founded (RC, EO, Lutherans, Reformed, Anglicans, etc.), the only place that we can start that doesn’t beg the question is the Scriptures on which we all agree.

    And I think that on the practical level, everyone now recognizes this. It’s why we have Bible translation committees made up of RCs, EO, and Prots. It’s a recognition that a mere appeal to any one tradition is useless in proving that tradition.

    This is why I have to say that, frankly, a lot of RC apologetics falls short. There is this philosophical appeal to the need for a principled means, or an appeal to some vague notion of tradition. But Prots, RCs, and EO—all of which have at least an equal claim at the outset to be the true church—all agree on the 66 book canon. So that’s where we should start.

    Now I realize that there are some RCs and some EO that think the other groups don’t really have a legitimate historical claim, but that is based on their existing ecclesiology and thus begs the question.

    The Eastern Orthodox do have the same understanding on the Sacrifice of the Mass.

    No they don’t. They don’t affirm transubstantiation and don’t really have a category for propitiatory atonement, so they can’t impute that to the Eucharist. You need to study the East a little more.

    How does the scripture that each share help their shared view? Or are they each relying on an uninscripurated tradition that is a human invention? If you believe the latter, have you ever wondered how the Church could have come up with such a view AND never addressed the error when they had the scriptures?

    From the history of God’s people, I kind of expect the people of God to go through long periods of disobedience. And Constantine’s actions with respect to Christianity and the church’s marriage to the state in the east and west led to widespread nominalism. So do I expect nominal Christianity to not address error? Yes, I do.

    As far as the intial part of the OCA article, the author betrays an ignorance of nondenominational Christianity by calling Armstrong the founder of a nondemoninational version of Christianity.

    “Isn’t it interesting that the Jews did not have a “closed canon” of Scripture during the time of Christ, before 100, or even after Jabneh? Even during the time of Christ there were competing opinions on what books actually belonged in the Jewish Bible. There were various collections in existence. Sadducees and Samaritans accepted only the Pentateuch, the first five books, whereas the Pharisees accepted a fuller canon including Psalms and the prophets. The Masoretic text did not contain the deuterocanonicals, whereas the widely used Greek Septuagint did.

    This uncertainty continued well into the second century. The discussion over the books of the canon of the Old Testament continued among the Jews long after Jabneh, which demonstrates that the canon was still under discussion in the third century—well beyond the apostolic period. The challenges to canonicity at Jabneh involved only Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon, but the debate over the canon continued past Jabneh, even into the second and third centuries. Even the Hebrew canon accepted by Protestants today was disputed by the Jews for two hundred years after Christ.”

    There’s actually a lot of misinformation on the development of the canon here. Read Roger Beckwith’s book on the OT canon.

    But I ultimately don’t really care about what some vaguely defined mass of people “the Jews” thought, especially after the time of Christ. I am a Christian. I want to have the Scriptures that Christ had. The evidence we have is that Jesus had the traditional Jewish canon and not other books. The evidence we have is that Jesus expected the Jews of his day, who did not have infallible tradition, to know that Genesis was Scripture apart from His say-s even though Genesis never claims to be Scripture. These are facts that you all really must address if you think you need a church council to be infallible to tell you what Scripture is. I don’t ever see them addressed.

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  150. James Young, you’re right. It’s not difficult. We have the Holy Spirit right there in the Word of God:

    …these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

    The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:10-16 ESV)

    I’ve got the mind of Christ. All you’ve got is Pope Francis (about whom you are remarkably silent). I know you’ll say you have STM. But STM doesn’t work without the living pope.

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  151. Darryl,

    “I’ve got the mind of Christ.”

    Christ offered irreformable teaching. The mind of Protestantism thinks such is inherently impossible for fallible minds to grasp, thus none of its bodies offering any, and your chiding above for RCs for QIRC.

    “We have the Holy Spirit right there in the Word of God:”

    That what you cited is the Word of God remains reformable and open to revision in your system.

    Liked by 1 person

  152. Darryl,

    Perhaps you were under the mistaken impression I don’t consider myself human. I think I said I was fallible about a million times before this thread. That hardly entails we cannot actually ever grasp irreformable truth, nor does it entail any authority one submits to can and must only offer reformable teaching or admitted opinion. You still want to argue 3a while handwaving 3; it’s a free country.

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  153. Christ offered irreformable teaching. The mind of Protestantism thinks such is inherently impossible for fallible minds to grasp.

    No, we believe fallible minds are perfectly inadequate for grasping infallible truths. If you actually agreed, there wouldn’t be this discussion.

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  154. James Young, perhaps then you’ll notice that Protestants also believe in infallible truth. We find it in the Bible which says nothing about an infallible pope and raises serious complications about tradition — think Jesus and Israel.

    So what are you debating? That we don’t swoon over a pope who claims to be infallible?

    We do get a little wobbly seeing you avoid the subject of Francis. Such a feat.

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  155. “I’ve got the mind of Christ.”
    Christ offered irreformable teaching. The mind of Protestantism thinks such is inherently impossible for fallible minds to grasp, thus none of its bodies offering any, and your chiding above for RCs for QIRC.

    “We have the Holy Spirit right there in the Word of God:”
    That what you cited is the Word of God remains reformable and open to revision in your system.

    @cvd Wasn’t the original question whether the RC was better off if her system were true than the prot if her system were true? If so, then we need to take the truth claims of each system and see where that leaves us:

    1) The RC believes that the Holy Spirit guides believers through scripture, the magisterium, and tradition and that under certain conditions the magisterium and tradition are protected from error. Of course the individual RC may or may not be faithful to that teaching, may misunderstand it, etc… (another problem not dealt with is that the individual might identify the wrong one). But the system offers teaching and retains traditions that are without error and thus cannot be reformed. Is that a fair summary?

    2) The SS-RP also believes that the Holy Spirit guides believers through scripture, church teaching, and tradition. The Word of God is infallible because it is God’s word…following Peter’s epistle, the parts of scripture coming from prophets and apostles are infallible because the revelation they provided originated not by their will, but by the Holy Spirit. The church can have false teachers and develop bad traditions, so these are not infallible. Further, the scriptures are living and active and the holy spirit speaks directly to believers to enlighten them and guide them (following Paul’s letter to the Corinthians that Darryl cited above). Of course, because of our sin and finitude, we can (and do) rebel and misunderstand, but the Holy Spirit is still at work to sanctify the elect (of course we have the problem of identification as well, but I presume that in granting the truth of our systems we set this aside).

    So while of the teachings of SS-RPs fall under the category of “ordinary magisterium”, I reject the conclusion that this leaves us with mere opinion (any more than all you have is opinion because you do not infallibly understand what your church teaches). Just as everything we learn in science is from induction and thus formally revisable, not everything is in fact wrong or just a matter of opinion. Similarly, just because our doctrine arises from induction (data here being the Bible rather than nature) does not leave us in a more epistemically precarious state – particularly when the work of the Holy Spirit in the process in allowed.

    Now I think we’ve covered all this and your response at this point has been something along the lines of: but if your system is true, then even our identification of scripture as God’s word and the intrinsic infallibility of God’s word is reformable – not so with the RCC. Is that a fair construal of your criticism? If so, this is where you err. Our understanding of scripture stands outside of the confession – it is a special case if you will. I suspect that the reformers anticipated this problem which motivated them to write,

    The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, depends not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God….our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.

    In other words, they want to be clear that they do not believe the Bible to be the Word of God because the WCF says so, but because it is self-attesting. Now you might reject that, but if you are going to grant the truth of our claims, then you have to allow that the existence and identification of the infallible word of God is prior to the confession and thus not reformable. It is akin to the scientist “believing” that reality exists and follows discoverable laws. Everything in science (to be science) is falsifiable, but there are certain prior beliefs that stand outside of the system (and no, this does not entail foundationalism).

    So if I grant the truth of your system and you grant the truth of mine, I don’t see why I am at an epistemic disadvantage. What does adding an infallible middle man between me and the Holy Spirit speaking through scripture provide?

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  156. Susan Vader says: Dear Ali,I got some beautiful music to share with you.

    Thanks Susan! I like Fernando Ortega a lot, don’t know that I know the others. When I read the Lord says: “speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord with thanksgiving”; (Eph 5:19; Col 3:16)… I interpret that to mean He is saying “speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord with thanksgiving”

    but that’s just me. 🙂

    Like

  157. Darryl,

    “you’ll notice that Protestants also believe in infallible truth.”

    Every article offered by Protestantism is asterisked as reformable and open to revision.

    “We find it in the Bible which says nothing”

    The identification of the content of that bible, its nature and role, as well as any interpretation of or teaching derived from that content, remains reformable and subject to revision in your system.

    “nothing about an infallible pope”

    The parallel and coordinate authorities of the church and tradition and Scripture are attested to in Scripture. Further, if Scripture as the sole infallible authority is an inconsistent or unworkable rule of faith and is meant to function properly with TM, any witness to S’s authority in S is itself an implicit endorsement and affirmation of TM.

    “raises serious complications about tradition — think Jesus and Israel. ”

    Jesus and the Apostles did not condemn all tradition, obviously – the church wasn’t waiting around till 100AD to operate. RCism condemns man-made tradition. But since you apparently automatically exclude the possibility that your view of Scripture and tradition and ecclesiology are themselves man-made traditions, such an oversight is expected.

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  158. Robert,

    I’m curious. Do you think Christians should worship on the seventh day of the week since scripture doesn’t tell us that we must gather on Sundays?
    Did the Church have authority to make Sundays the day of corporate worship?

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  159. Susan,

    I’m curious. Do you think Christians should worship on the seventh day of the week since scripture doesn’t tell us that we must gather on Sundays?

    I think Christians are free to worship on whatever day of the week their church tells them to. I am very wary of any group that insists worshipping on a specific day is a mark of orthodoxy, and I’m somewhat wary of any group that thinks Sunday is a fine option but chooses to worship on another day because of historic associations with legalism.

    Sunday is the best choice because the Lord was raised on the first day of the week, but I don’t think a church that chooses to worship on another day is necessarily wrong. A group like the Seventh Day Adventists is wrong not because it worships on Saturday but because it (historically) has confessed that Saturday is the only acceptable day of worship and all others are in sin.

    In sum, I believe Christians should worship on Sunday, but it’s not a mark of orthodoxy. The New Testament seems to indicate that the early Christians, the early Jewish Christians at least, would gather on Saturdays and Sundays.

    Did the Church have authority to make Sundays the day of corporate worship?

    The church has the authority to pick a day for corporate worship. It doesn’t have the authority to say “You must worship on Sunday and if you don’t worship on Sunday, you are going to hell.”

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  160. Cletus,

    Further, if Scripture as the sole infallible authority is an inconsistent or unworkable rule of faith and is meant to function properly with TM, any witness to S’s authority in S is itself an implicit endorsement and affirmation of TM.

    Why is it unworkable or inconsistent to have infallible Scripture plus fallible T and fallible M, which is basically the Magisterial Reformation position for a rule of faith?

    Honestly, I don’t see how it is any less workable than infallible S plus infallible T plus infallible M. The only way I think you could make that argument is that if you hold that S has 1/3 of the deposit, T has 1/3 of the deposit, and M has 1/3 of the deposit. If one source has all of the deposit, why do the others need to be infallible? And there are strains of RCism that say Scripture has all of the deposit.

    And if self-attestation is bad, why do you accept it for Rome? You seem to have an oddly fundamentalistic reading of authority. Its like the Bible-only fundamentalist Baptists who don’t believe anything unless it is explicitly stated. You accept self-attestation for the Magisterium because the Magisterium explicitly states it is inspired or whatever, but not for the Bible because not every book makes an explicit claim to inspiration that you would like it to make. Why go all fundamentalist, KJV only on us when it comes to the M and self-attestation?

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  161. Cletus,re: tradition – the tradition of the sacred heart of Jesus- which from what I saw the other day means : post an icon of Jesus with a bright red heart and be devoted to it” – is a very difficult one. I tried to understand the idea of the tradition and its source in this 5K word explanation http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07163a.htm

    It seems to begin with a St. Margaret Mary Alacoque making a life vow to the blessed virgin (vows are made to the blessed virgin?); then there were some visions of Jesus; then another vision of a St. Gertrude that “forms an epoch in the history of the devotion” when, allowed to rest her head near the wound in the saviour’s,she heard the beating of the Divine Heart and asked John if, on the night of the last supper, he too had felt these delightful pulsations, why he had never spoken of the fact. John replied that this revelation had been reserved for subsequent ages when the world, having grown cold, would have need of it to rekindle its love”; and now, of course, some, “the Catholics of France especially, cling firmly to it as one of their strongest hopes of ennoblement and salvation”

    I thought Jesus Himself was our only hope of salvation and in sincerity, do you truly believe this ‘tradition’.

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  162. James Young, but the Bible is not reformable. Meanwhile, you still don’t talk about Francis. Such papal chutzpah.

    Your understanding of what’s infallible is predicated on your fallibility. So we don’t really know if you understand infallibility. And how can you tell what’s infallible? Jeff got you on that one and you’re still on the mat.

    T and M attested to by Scripture. Not what Paul writes. He’s silent on the two — TWO!! for two millennia — infallible dogmas — papal infallibility (convenient, no?) and Mary. But he’s not silent on the work of the Spirit. Heck, Nicea affirms the Spirit. Nothing on the bishop of Rome.

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  163. Darryl,

    “but the Bible is not reformable.”

    That the Bible is even inspired, inerrant, and infallible is itself offered as a reformable and subject to revision teaching in your system.

    “And how can you tell what’s infallible?”

    Faith and reason. Just like the NT believers did. Unless you’d like to argue they could never know what was irreformable teaching and not, and thus never had a principled means for distinguishing divine truth from opinon. But then you’d have to give up 3 as well as 3a.

    “Not what Paul writes.”

    The identification of what Paul wrote is offered as reformble and subject to revision in your system. Further, you already rely on tradition in order to identify what he wrote, as his authorship is disputed on some writings you accept. That aside, let’s see what he writes:

    “I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you”
    “For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.”
    “Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things?”
    “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
    “Take as a model of sound teaching what you have heard me say, in faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the rich deposit of faith with the help of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.”
    “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter”
    “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example.”
    “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
    “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it,”

    T and M is of course attested to by S, considering the church was operating for decades before S was completed. This should not be controversial – SS wasn’t operative during the apostolic age, by definition.

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  164. “That the Bible is even inspired, inerrant, and infallible is itself offered as a reformable and subject to revision teaching in your system.”
    This is false.

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  165. Mermaid, he’s talking to you:

    Search your heart and find what is holding you back from God. Bring everything out in the open before God and ask for help. God is not a vengeful God, who will strike you down because you are imperfect. He is merciful and desires to forgive you all of your sins.

    Then, make a habit of going to the sacrament of confession. We need to start breaking the bonds of sin that are slowing us down. All of us are sinners and need the grace and love of God to live a Christian life.

    We don’t need to be perfect when we die, but we do need to be divorced from a life of sin. We need to desire Him above all things and strive for holiness. We will fall, but the important part is getting back up.

    Also, don’t to confess those mortal sins and beware if you die before you do.

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  166. James Young, so if papal infallibility reformable. One day it applies to some doctrines and practices, the next day it doesn’t. You really think you mean the same thing by papal infallibility as Pius X? Where can I find some of that weed (as long as it’s legal)?

    Faith and reason? But your faith and reason are fallen and fallible. Try the Holy Spirit.

    What Paul says about tradition is not what he says for the epistemology seminar. How do we know? That’s what you and Mermaid keep getting stuck and stuck up on. And when he talks about how we know, he says — wait for it — Holy Spirit. Yup.

    I guess you don’t have much practice reading the Bible. But you’re good at avoiding Pope Francis. I know, if only Bryan Cross were pope instead of the computer in 2001.

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  167. Cletus,

    That the Bible is even inspired, inerrant, and infallible is itself offered as a reformable and subject to revision teaching in your system.

    As SDB says, this is incorrect. Its axiomatic that divine revelation is inspired, inerrant, and infallible. The best you could say is that the contours of divine revelation are offered as reformable and subject to revision in Protestantism, but that’s not exactly right either. It’s certainly not offered as reformable any more than your mind offers to your will the reformable notion that Rome is the church Jesus founded.

    And you still have the problem of Rome not having irreformably identified the T. And I don’t recall, does Rome ever explicitly say that no further books can be added to the canon? Seems to me that if Rome never says “And no books can ever be added to the canon,” it has a reformable canon.

    There are just all sorts of problems with your argument even if we accept the whole “principled means” presupposition—and that’s what it is, a presupposition. You want to preserve a unique role for the deposit, but then you have the Magisterium sometimes acting as the deposit and sometimes not. You demand a fully, irreformable identification of the deposit of Protestantism, but then don’t demand it of STM while assuring us that the individual RC is free not to submit if the M contradicts the S and the T but you’ve given us no way apart from the M to even know what the S and T are. Which is awfully convenient for the M and doesn’t really give you a foundation ever to know if the M has contradicted the S and the T, because there is always the chance that there is something else in the S and the T that has not been identified but would justify the contradiction.

    It would make more sense if you would go full on Mormon and affirm ongoing revelation and that whatever the M says today is orthodoxy. It’s the essential RC apologist position, you all just are afraid to admit it.

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  168. Cletus,

    Nice quotes from Paul. Now prove that what he is saying refers to stuff that never got written down, and you might have a point. Of course if you do that, you disprove material sufficiency and thus invalidate the M as allowing that as a legitimate option.

    And we’re all still waiting for you to justify the Church claiming the prerogative of Paul when you deny that the Church has the same inspiration or ministry as Paul and Peter and so on.

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  169. . G. Hart says: Mermaid, he’s talking to you: DG link : “To conclude, here is a beautiful saying that one can see in the sacristies of the Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity all over the world and should be WRITTEN IN ALL OF OUR HEARTS to remind us how to live life. The board says: Let us live each day as if it was our last and only day. Then it doesn’t matter if a terrorist destroys our body, he will never destroy our soul.”

    Which hopefully they mean by it : To conclude, here is the most beautiful saying (the Bible)…. repent and receive and believe Jesus, and as promised, receive His writing on the heart
    …this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more Jer 31: 33-34

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  170. Darryl,

    “You really think you mean the same thing by papal infallibility as Pius X?”

    Yes, considering the Vat1 definition did not hold he was infallible 24×7 or equated contingent discipline/application with irreformable dogma. That would be historically untenable, which is why the Vat1 definition laid out criteria you seem to ignore.

    “Try the Holy Spirit.”

    And yet you still cannot offer an irreformable teaching, solely due, according to your side, to the fact you remain fallible and human even with the Holy Spirit. So “trying” anything that doesn’t overcome my personal fallibility doesn’t get me anywhere according to your side.
    The Holy Spirit worked on NT believers – that did not entail Christ and the Apostles could and did not offer irreformable teaching – people with the Holy Spirit could disagree and Christ/Apostles could definitively resolve those disputes. So the Holy Spirit working on modern beleivers does not entail any and all authorities do not and cannot offer irreformable teaching nor definitively judge and resolve disputes amongst believers, which is what we see in Protestantism.

    “What Paul says about tradition ”

    So Paul did write affirming T after all. And yet you hold to SS without him writing that T fell to the wayside or was just a temporary stopgap and that everything to be followed is and will be written down at some magic time. Sounds by your own standard you should be suspicious of SS as being a man-made tradition the NT warns about.

    “But you’re good at avoiding Pope Francis.”

    Because someone doesn’t write articles about him every other day doesn’t mean that person is “avoiding” him.

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  171. James Young, but if infallibility nets you Pope Francis, how good is it? The OPC is more orthodox than your pope. Your irreformalble dogma argument is simply what allows you to feel superior (which I believe is pride and a mortal sin). Better go to confession. Oh wait, you only have to do that once a year. Is there an app for recording all your sins so you don’t forget?

    Here’s the thing about Pius X. He’s say Rahner is a modernist. You say Rahner is now part of T&M. It’s no easier being Roman Catholic than being Protestant.

    Fess up, yup.

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  172. Darryl,

    “but if infallibility nets you Pope Francis, how good is it?”

    Infallibility nets me more than Pope Francis. Nor is infallibility limited to PI.

    “Your irreformalble dogma argument is simply what allows you to feel superior ”
    “The OPC is more orthodox than your pope.”

    This simply allows you to feel superior.

    Robert,

    “That the Bible is even inspired, inerrant, and infallible is itself offered as a reformable and subject to revision teaching in your system.”
    – As SDB says, this is incorrect. Its axiomatic that divine revelation is inspired, inerrant, and infallible. The best you could say is that the contours of divine revelation are offered as reformable and subject to revision in Protestantism”

    Right, so that the Bible is even inspired, inerrant, and infallible (i.e. divine revelation) is itself offered as a reformable and subject to revision teaching in your system. So my statement wasn’t incorrect.

    “It’s certainly not offered as reformable ”

    No Protestant church or body offers the identification of the Bible, or its nature, functional authority, and role, as irreformable and not subject to revision.

    “It would make more sense if you would go full on Mormon and affirm ongoing revelation and that whatever the M says today is orthodoxy.”

    That’s not necessary nor does it follow from anything argued thus far. More importantly, such an affirmation wouldn’t matter to you. Because 1-3 is just as illegitimate as 1a-3a according to your side’s argument; personal fallibility perpetually clouds everything, thus precluding the possibility of an infallible authority that can offer irreformable teaching.

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  173. Clete,

    Right, so that the Bible is even inspired, inerrant, and infallible (i.e. divine revelation) is itself offered as a reformable and subject to revision teaching in your system. So my statement wasn’t incorrect.

    No, its not offered as reformable. Its offered as correct. That’s the point of confessions. To offer what the body believes as correct.

    No Protestant church or body offers the identification of the Bible, or its nature, functional authority, and role, as irreformable and not subject to revision.

    Sorry, but until you actually deal with what WCF says about the nature of Scripture, you will continue to talk past us. Scripture is self-attesting, just as the Roman See is self-attesting.

    And you still haven’t dealt with the fact that Rome hasn’t offered the T as irreformable and not subject to revision in any other way that Protestants have said God’s Word is irreformable and not subject to revision.

    That’s not necessary nor does it follow from anything argued thus far. More importantly, such an affirmation wouldn’t matter to you. Because 1-3 is just as illegitimate as 1a-3a according to your side’s argument; personal fallibility perpetually clouds everything, thus precluding the possibility of an infallible authority that can offer irreformable teaching.

    This is bull and shows you aren’t paying attention. No one is precluding the possibility of an infallible authority that can offer irreformable teaching. All of us believe in an infallible God who offers irreformable teaching. We differ on the means he has chosen to use. All of us would accept that the church is the infallible authority who offers absolutely irreformable teaching if in fact we thought there was a good reason to accept that. All of us accept that the Bible offers infallible, irreformable teaching, though for Roman Catholics, Scripture is a dead letter that can’t bear its own attestation but for some reason the church can.

    Personal fallibility isn’t an issue until you drill down on the position that you need a non-inspired but selectively infallible authority between you and the deposit in order to have certainty. Except of course, for some reason, you don’t need an infallible authority between fallible you and that infallible authority/principled means at the moment of decision because your intellect/mind/will can properly discern truth from opinion at the point of making the choice of which authority to follow, but after that it’s pretty much useless.

    But I’d like you to answer my question that I keep repeating, but you keep missing it: “If I were infallible, would I need an infallible authority between me and the deposit of faith in order to distinguish opinion from divinely revealed truth?”

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  174. Tags!

    That’s not necessary nor does it follow from anything argued thus far. More importantly, such an affirmation wouldn’t matter to you. Because 1-3 is just as illegitimate as 1a-3a according to your side’s argument; personal fallibility perpetually clouds everything, thus precluding the possibility of an infallible authority that can offer irreformable teaching.

    This is bull and shows you aren’t paying attention. No one is precluding the possibility of an infallible authority that can offer irreformable teaching. All of us believe in an infallible God who offers irreformable teaching. We differ on the means he has chosen to use. All of us would accept that the church is the infallible authority who offers absolutely irreformable teaching if in fact we thought there was a good reason to accept that. As Protestants, we look at the reality of history and Scripture and conclude that there is no good reason to think that the means God has chosen to preserve his truth is through a selectively infallible Magisterium. All of us accept that the Bible offers infallible, irreformable teaching, though for Roman Catholics, Scripture is a dead letter that can’t bear its own attestation but for some reason the church can.

    Personal fallibility isn’t an issue until you drill down on the position that you need a non-inspired but selectively infallible authority between you and the deposit in order to have certainty. Except of course, for some reason, you don’t need an infallible authority between fallible you and that infallible authority/principled means at the moment of decision because your intellect/mind/will can properly discern truth from opinion at the point of making the choice of which authority to follow, but after that it’s pretty much useless.

    But I’d like you to answer my question that I keep repeating, but you keep missing it: “If I were infallible, would I need an infallible authority between me and the deposit of faith in order to distinguish opinion from divinely revealed truth?”

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  175. Robert,

    “No, its not offered as reformable. Its offered as correct. That’s the point of confessions. To offer what the body believes as correct. ”

    The confessions and the churches that produced them have disclaimers to infallible authority. Whatever the confessions offer is offered as tentatively correct, and admittedly reformable and subject to revision. That’s why they’ve been revised. That’s why you have (nor should you) no problem disregarding Protestant confessions and churches you disagree with that offer what they view as correct – since anything they offer as correct is offered with an asterisk that its reformable and could be wrong, and those under other Protestant churches and/or confessions return the favor to yours.

    “Sorry, but until you actually deal with what WCF says about the nature of Scripture,”

    What the WCF says about the nature of Scripture is reformable and subject to revision, consistent with its disclaimers to any authority to offer irreformable teaching.

    “No one is precluding the possibility of an infallible authority that can offer irreformable teaching”

    So Rome can provide a principled means for distinguishing divine truth from opinion despite the personal fallibility of her followers.

    “Personal fallibility isn’t an issue until you drill down on the position that you need a non-inspired but selectively infallible authority between you and the deposit in order to have certainty.”

    Even with such an authority one cannot have certainty according to your side. Thus the QIRC charge and everything must be asterisked.

    “Except of course, for some reason, you don’t need an infallible authority between fallible you and that infallible authority/principled means”

    NT believers did not need an infinite regress of infallible authorities between them and Christ/Apostles, despite their personal fallibility.

    “at the moment of decision because your intellect/mind/will can properly discern truth from opinion at the point of making the choice of which authority to follow, but after that it’s pretty much useless.”

    The intellect/mind/will is hardly useless in RCism after submitting to its authority, any more than the intellect/mind/will was useless for NT believers after submitting to Christ/Apostles authority.

    “If I were infallible”

    Both of us agree we’re not infallible.

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  176. St. Augustine was not infallible, but this is what he considered to be the canon of Scripture.

    The view that the Deuteros are inspired, authoritative Scripture is nothing new. What is new? I am pretty sure that claiming the Deuteros could not be Scripture because no one is infallible is a new kid on the block

    Notice that the Deuteros are mixed in with the other books, not put in the back, and certainly not left out.

    How did he know this? Same way he knew all matters of faith and practice.

    “For my part, I should not believe the gospel except moved by the authority of the Catholic Church. (Against the Epistle of Manichaeus 5, 6; NPNF 1, Vol. IV, 131)”

    ————————————————————
    Deuterocanonical Books / So-Called “Apocrypha”?
    Now the whole canon of Scripture on which we say this judgment is to be exercised, is contained in the following books:—Five books of Moses, that is, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; one book of Joshua the son of Nun; one of Judges; one short book called Ruth, which seems rather to belong to the beginning of Kings; next, four books of Kings, and two of Chronicles—these last not following one another, but running parallel, so to speak, and going over the same ground. The books now mentioned are history, which contains a connected narrative of the times, and follows the order of the events. There are other books which seem to follow no regular order, and are connected neither with the order of the preceding books nor with one another, such as Job, and Tobias, and Esther, and Judith, and the two books of Maccabees, and the two of Ezra, which last look more like a sequel to the continuous regular history which terminates with the books of Kings and Chronicles. Next are the Prophets, in which there is one book of the Psalms of David; and three books of Solomon, viz., Proverbs, Song of Songs, and Ecclesiastes. For two books, one called Wisdom and the other Ecclesiasticus, are ascribed to Solomon from a certain resemblance of style, but the most likely opinion is that they were written by Jesus the son of Sirach. Still they are to be reckoned among the prophetical books, since they have attained recognition as being authoritative. The remainder are the books which are strictly called the Prophets: twelve separate books of the prophets which are connected with one another, and having never been disjoined, are reckoned as one book; the names of these prophets are as follows:—Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi; then there are the four greater prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel. The authority of the Old Testament is contained within the limits of these forty-four books. That of the New Testament, again, is contained within the following:—Four books of the Gospel, according to Matthew, according to Mark, according to Luke, according to John; fourteen epistles of the Apostle Paul—one to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, one to the Galatians, to the Ephesians, to the Philippians, two to the Thessalonians, one to the Colossians, two to Timothy, one to Titus, to Philemon, to the Hebrews: two of Peter; three of John; one of Jude; and one of James; one book of the Acts of the Apostles; and one of the Revelation of John. (On Christian Doctrine, Book II, Chapter 8, section 13: “The Canonical Books”; NPNF 1, Vol. II; bolding added presently)
    ————————————————————————
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2016/04/st-augustine-was-catholic-not-proto-protestant.html

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  177. OK. Time to pull the boots back on and head into the breach.

    CVD: Let’s break it down.
    1. Christ and the Apostles were infallible, offering irreformable dogma, and claiming the authority/ability to do so.
    2. NT believers were fallible.
    3. Christ and the Apostles were a principled means for NT believers to distinguish divine truth from opinion, a consequence of 1.
    So far we all agree I presume.

    1a. Now, assume hypothetically Rome is infallible, offering irreformable dogma, and claiming the authority/ability to do so.
    2a. RC believers are fallible.
    3a. Rome is not a principled means for RC believers to distinguish divine truth from opinion – indeed, it can’t possibly be. Why? Because 2a.

    No, I don’t agree to 3. It’s poorly constructed. What in the world does it mean to say that “Christ … was a principled means”? Christ was a person, the God-man. A “means” is something to be used by an individual to achieve a purpose.

    I suspect under the poor construction lies an awkward thought.

    If you mean that Christ’s words were divine truth, and that believers were justified in trusting His words, then I agree.

    But if you mean that Christ was a means by which believers could attain to certainty-without-possibility-of-error, then there’s absolutely no reason to believe that. Peter spent more time with Christ that anyone else except perhaps John, and yet was still prone to error both before and after Pentecost.

    Likewise in the parallel argument: If we hypothetically take 1a as correct, then Rome’s teachings would indeed be truth, and believers would be justified in trusting Rome’s teachings.

    But Rome is not a means by which believers can achieve certainty-without-error. Infallibility doesn’t transfer. The teaching is (hypothetically) certain; your understanding of it is not and can never be.

    But in any event, your 1 – 3 are not parallel to the 1a – 3a. In the case of Rome, you have a very, very large filter between you and the hypothetically irreformable dogma. Namely, you have bishops, priests, translations, and shifting interpretations over time.

    If you want the irreformable teaching of the Nicene Creed, you need the actual document produced by the council; nothing else is (hypothetically) guaranteed to be infallible.

    And then, having acquired that, you have to be able to read Greek unicals — infallibly.

    And having achieved that, one then must wonder how an irreformable doctrine picked up a filioque after a few centuries.

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  178. @ MWF: No-one claimed that the ideas that the Deuteros are Scripture is new. What we said is that it was not consensus.

    The same searching that got you Augustine’s view can also get you Athanasius’ view.

    There are, then, of the Old Testament, twenty-two books in number; for, as I have heard, it is handed down that this is the number of the letters among the Hebrews; their respective order and names being as follows. The first is Genesis, then Exodus, next Leviticus, after that Numbers, and then Deuteronomy. Following these there is Joshua, the son of Nun, then Judges, then Ruth. And again, after these four books of Kings, the first and second being reckoned as one book, and so likewise the third and fourth as one book. And again, the first and second of the Chronicles are reckoned as one book. Again Ezra, the first and second are similarly one book. After these there is the book of Psalms, then the Proverbs, next Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs. Job follows, then the Prophets, the twelve being reckoned as one book. Then Isaiah, one book, then Jeremiah with Baruch, Lamentations, and the epistle, one book; afterwards, Ezekiel and Daniel, each one book. Thus far constitutes the Old Testament.

    5. Again it is not tedious to speak of the [books] of the New Testament. These are, the four Gospels, …

    7. But for greater exactness I add this also, writing of necessity; that there are other books besides these not indeed included in the Canon, but appointed by the Fathers to be read by those who newly join us, and who wish for instruction in the word of godliness. The Wisdom of Solomon, and the Wisdom of Sirach, and Esther, and Judith, and Tobit, and that which is called the Teaching of the Apostles, and the Shepherd.

    Athanasius, letter 39.

    So then we have to ask: If it was as well-known as you claim that the Deuteros are Scripture, how is it that Athanasius missed the memo?

    Or does Augustine rate above Athanasius?

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  179. OK, let’s take this in two parts.

    CVD: That does not mean Shemuel can never actually attain to certainty and the (irreformable) truth of what Jesus actually taught. NT believers erred or misunderstood at times. By virtue and exercise of Christ/Apostles authority, those errors and misunderstandings could be definitively clarified and corrected – iteratively if necessary.

    Actually, I disagree. “Definitive clarification” — and Paul and Jesus both did some of that — does not create certainty in the mind of the listener. It increases accuracy.

    It was a bitter lesson of my first year of teaching that, just because I present truth, it does not follow that my students grasp that truth to a high degree of accuracy. Some do; but many require frequent repetition, seeing things from different angles, etc.

    Several things can and do go wrong.

    * The listener can tune out — I’ve literally had students show me their notes stating the exact *opposite* of what I taught.
    * The listener can have a mistaken memory and never know it until the test (or beyond).
    * The listener can have a wrong mental image of what the words mean.
    * The listener can have the right mental image, but a wrong detail.
    * Etc.

    Definitive clarification can help with those problems, but unless the listener has some property that makes the clarification perfectly efficacious, then — there’s the possibility of error, even in the clarification.

    Claiming that a listener can achieve certainty-without-possibility-of-error is a HUGE, HUGE claim. Having a source of “irreformable dogma” only addresses one of the many ways that a believer could be in error.

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  180. Cletus,

    Answer the question:

    If I were infallible, would I need an infallible principled means between me and the deposit.

    It’s a yes or no question. I suspect the answer is no, if I were infallible I would not need such a principled means.

    Which answer would indicate that the problem you are trying to overcome is personal fallibility, which the Magisterium doesn’t do.

    Or, the answer could be yes, I would need a principled means. Which doesn’t seem to make sense, because an infallible person would never mistake his opinion for divine revelation.

    So why should I not believe the fundamental problem you are trying to overcome is personal fallibility?

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  181. Jeff,

    And having achieved that, one then must wonder how an irreformable doctrine picked up a filioque after a few centuries.

    Don’t you understand? Adding the filioque was not a reform in the Protestant sense but merely an expansion. Why? Because Rome said so.

    Of course the East disagrees. Which begs the question as to the principled means you would use to distinguish Rome from the East. But if you ask that question, you’ll just get crickets.

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  182. CVD: More importantly to the thread, if Shemuel was mistaken, that does not entail Jesus was fallible or presented his teachings as fallible, as you agree. Which has been my point – fallibility of the submitting agent does not entail the authority can and must only offer reformable teaching, which Protestantism does.

    OK, so perhaps I have been less than clear here. For the purposes of this post, I will hypothetically assume that Rome is capable of speaking infallibly through its magisterial authority.

    The fallibility of the listener, as seen above, means only that the listener cannot achieve certainty-without-possibility-of-error.

    Now we need to consider the fallibility of the authority.

    In the case of Jesus, or Paul writing Scripture, there is no fallibility, and there is no issue.

    But in the case of the Church, there are a large number of authorities within the church who are fallible. In fact, all of them except one, and even only on rare occasions does that one speak infallibly.

    Each of those authorities has had church teaching explained to him, also by a fallible explainer, and by the use of fallible (that is, not the infallible original) documents.

    Every single Church authority that you, Webfoot, or Susan has ever spoken to and will ever speak to has spoken fallibly. The only exception would be if one of you somehow managed to be present when the Pope spoke ex cathedra.

    Because of that fact, the teachings that you have been presented with are not like teachings from Jesus or Paul. They are not irreformable dogmas, but explanations from fallible men, who in turn learned their explanations from fallible men.

    If you did a network graph showing degrees of connection back to actual, magisterial, irreformable teaching, you probably have no closer than 20 degrees of separation — and very possibly a much larger number — between you and that irreformable teaching.

    Further, because there is no index of irreformable truths, that network graph would have to show shades of color to mark which teachings are “most likely” to be actual church dogma.

    Hence I have been saying, and stand by the claim, that all of the teaching that you have received is presented to you as reformable. Every proposition X is subject to the footnote * whose text reads

    * Assuming that X is, in fact, taught by the Church.

    So in many ways, the Protestant approach is actually much more sound. It removes those degrees of separation and places the individual directly in contact with our best estimate of what God’s irreformable truth is. The cost, as you point out, is that the individual is perhaps more free to run with his own opinions; the benefit is that the source material is infallible.

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  183. James Young, “NT believers did not need an infinite regress of infallible authorities between them and Christ/Apostles, despite their personal fallibility.”

    Right. They had the Holy Spirit. Peter was in prison.

    You have to make your story match. If T&M don’t dovetail with Scripture, what happens? Call James Young?

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  184. So just to sum up: Taking the Catholic paradigm as a given, that the Catholic believer has submitted to a Church that is able to speak infallibly, still the Catholic believer must

    * Footnote every proposition X he believes with the tag, “Because I am fallible, it is possible that I have misunderstood the Church to teach X.”

    * Footnote every proposition X he sees or hears with the tag, “Because the authority speaking to me is fallible (as were his teachers and the translations of documents that he studied, it is possible that X is not the true teaching of the Church.”

    For those reasons, the Catholic believer cannot have certainty-without-possibility-of-error.

    A lesser kind of certainty will have to do.

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  185. ” “Sorry, but until you actually deal with what WCF says about the nature of Scripture,”

    What the WCF says about the nature of Scripture is reformable and subject to revision, consistent with its disclaimers to any authority to offer irreformable teaching.”

    No. The wcf notes that God’s word is prior to its summary of doctrine and rests not on the testimony of the wcf but on the holy spirit. The understanding of the infallibility of God’s word stands apart from the rest of their reformable summary of what the word teaches. Once one rejects the infallibility of God’s word you have a different religion (this was Machen’s point). Furthermore, “the everything is reformable” isn’t quite right. A teaching is reformable insofar as it is made consonant with the word of God…the implication being that God’s word is not itself reformable. So we do offer irreformable teaching – God’s word. One might be tempted to borrow from the framers and say that it is self evident. Still not sure what an infallible middle man adds to the Holy Spirit speaking through God’s living Word.

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  186. ” But if you mean that Christ was a means by which believers could attain to certainty-without-possibility-of-error, then there’s absolutely no reason to believe that. Peter spent more time with Christ that anyone else except perhaps John, and yet was still prone to error both before and after Pentecost.”

    This is a really good point. Indeed a major theme in the gospels is that Jesus intentionally hid certain truths and that access to that truth was not infallible declarations by a great teacher, but the enlightenment by the Holy Spirit. This isn’t to say there was no place for teachers only that even an infallible one was not a sufficient means for grasping truth.

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  187. sdb says :Still not sure what an infallible middle man adds to the Holy Spirit speaking through God’s living Word.

    added new words that had been ‘reserved for subsequent ages’ ?

    ……St. Gertrude’ vision “forms an epoch in the history of the devotion (sacred heart of Jesus) ” when, allowed to rest her head near the wound in the saviour’s, she heard the beating of the Divine Heart and asked John if, on the night of the last supper, he too had felt these delightful pulsations, why he had never spoken of the fact.
    John replied that this revelation had been reserved for subsequent ages

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  188. Jeff:
    So then we have to ask: If it was as well-known as you claim that the Deuteros are Scripture, how is it that Athanasius missed the memo?>>>

    The point is that you Protestants are wrong in saying that the Deuteros cannot be Scripture.

    That is what you advocate. That is what you claim to be sure of.

    Jeff:
    A lesser kind of certainty will have to do.>>>>

    Then, show less certainty when it comes to the Deuteros. Otherwise you are just blowing smoke.

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  189. Webby,

    The point is that you Protestants are wrong in saying that the Deuteros cannot be Scripture.

    That is what you advocate. That is what you claim to be sure of.

    Um, what we are advocating that the Deuteros are not Scripture. And we have good grounds for certainty on that, though not certainty that precludes even the logical possibility of error, which is what you guys are trying to get. And as Jeff has noted, you can’t attain that certainty even with your infallible Magisterium.

    Then, show less certainty when it comes to the Deuteros. Otherwise you are just blowing smoke.

    How much “less certainty” do you want than for Protestants to set forth a canonical list that we do not say is inspired?

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  190. Jeff:
    So then we have to ask: If it was as well-known as you claim that the Deuteros are Scripture, how is it that Athanasius missed the memo?>>>

    Besides, how did the Eastern Orthodox Churches and the Catholic Church miss the memo that the Deuteros are NOT Scripture?

    How did the WCF get the memo that the Ds do not belong?

    We are back to the question of authority. Who has the right to make the determination about what books are and what books are not God breathed?

    You, Jeff, have made that determination for yourself based on the authority you have given to yourself. In fact, in your canon, the story of the woman taken in adultery is not inspired Scripture. No matter that all the rest of Christianity has accepted its inspiration, and that for 2,000 years. That is the consensus. You reject it. So what?

    The consensus of Christianity – both east and west – is that the Deuteros are authoritative. The consensus is that guys like Augustine got it right and on this point, Athanasius got it wrong. The Ds are Scripture. They belong in the canon.

    So, no matter how you wish to look at it, you are the one tying yourself up in knots on this issue.

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  191. Darryl,

    “If T&M don’t dovetail with Scripture, what happens?”

    If Scripture doesn’t dovetail with science, what happens?
    If Scripture doesn’t dovetail with history, what happens?
    If Scripture doesn’t dovetail with itself, what happens?

    sdb,

    “The wcf notes ”

    What the wcf notes is itself reformable and subject to revision, as are all its teachings.

    “Once one rejects the infallibility of God’s word you have a different religion (this was Machen’s point).”

    So RCism and EOxy are not different religions from Protestantism or Christianity in your view. Mormonism is not a different religion. Do those who reject the infallibility of disputed passages in your canon have a different religion?
    As I’ve said before, you’re already presuming a host of doctrines in this statement – revelation was given, it is closed, it was all written down in something called “God’s word”, it was all written down in only these particular books, it was all written down in only these particular passages in these books, that writing is fully inerrant, and so forth – all of which are offered as reformable and subject to revision in Protestantism.

    “A teaching is reformable insofar as it is made consonant with the word of God”

    Right and this is left to the individual’s judgment. Such individuals admit their judgment is not infallible and can shift, and they feel no compunction in changing Protestant churches or confessions, nor should they, given those churches and confessions’ disclaimers to the type of authority that would merit pause.
    As was cited above, “For any doctrine you pick, you can find a church that either denies it or views it as merely optional. And why shouldn’t they? If no man or church is infallible, and Christian liberty of conscience is paramount, then any Christian may legitimately change their mind about what is and is not “essential,” and no man or church has the divinely granted authority to proclaim that such a person is wrong. Or right, of course. We’re all “pickers and choosers.””

    “Still not sure what an infallible middle man adds to the Holy Spirit speaking through God’s living Word.”

    Does the Holy Spirit speak to you through Sirach, Book of Moroni, Gospel of Thomas, the longer ending of Mark? Did Christ and the Apostles let their followers who had the Holy Spirit just perpetually argue amongst themselves in disputes, or were they able to offer normative and binding judgments on those disputes? When you are in a dispute with someone who claims the Holy Spirit that you consider in grave error and they return the favor, and both are sincere in their belief, is the stalemate unresolvable?

    “Indeed a major theme in the gospels is that Jesus intentionally hid certain truths”

    Did Jesus hide this truth as well?

    “but the enlightenment by the Holy Spirit. This isn’t to say there was no place for teachers only that even an infallible one was not a sufficient means for grasping truth.”

    Yup, faith and reason, as already acknowledged above. NT believers had the Holy Spirit, but that wasn’t all they had – they had infallible authorities offering irreformable teachings – faith wasn’t reduced to subjectivism and opinion.

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  192. Cletus,

    NT believers had the Holy Spirit, but that wasn’t all they had – they had infallible authorities offering irreformable teachings – faith wasn’t reduced to subjectivism and opinion.

    Let’s get this straight. The Protestant position is that we have the EXACT SAME infallible authorities offering irreformable teachings as the NT believers had. We have Jesus and the Apostles. It’s called the New Testament.

    At this point, I think that what is hardest for you all to grasp is that Protestants actually believe that to have the words of Jesus is to have Jesus Himself. We don’t believe Scripture is a dead letter. We don’t believe that Scripture needs the church in order for it to do its job. You may not agree with that position, but if you would actually deal with that position the conversation might take a few steps forward.

    The church can fallibly point people to Jesus and the Apostles, but the church isn’t Jesus and the Apostles. There’s a ton of equivocation here whereby we get “No, Rome is not the Apostles but it is the same thing as having Jesus and the Apostles, but not an inspired version.” What?

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  193. Cletus,

    If I were infallible, would I need an infallible principled means between me and the deposit of faith?

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  194. Darryl,

    The questions were intended merely to point out your question presupposes what’s in dispute. TM dovetails with S, hence STM-triad.

    Robert,

    Jesus and the Apostles weren’t sentences and letters walking around.

    “have the words of Jesus is to have Jesus Himself.”

    According to Jeff you only have a phantom and simulacrum of Jesus then. Since “you have a very, very large filter between you” and the words of Jesus. Namely, you have scribes, translators, copies of copies, councils of men distinguishing what is and isn’t canonical, and shifting interpretations over time. 10 filters at least – https://douglasbeaumont.com/2011/07/03/sola-scriptura-death-by-a-thousand-or-ten-qualifications/

    To adapt Jeff’s point, If you want the irreformable words of Jesus and thus Jesus Himself, you need the actual document produced by Christ or the Apostles; nothing else is (hypothetically) guaranteed to be infallible. Since you don’t have that, you don’t have Jesus Himself by your argument.

    “There’s a ton of equivocation here ”

    There’s no equivocation. The argument from your side is – any personal infallibility on the submitting agent’s part to an infallible authority nukes the consequences of the infallible authority and its ability – that is, the follower has no principled means to distinguish divine truth from opinion or attain to certainty simply by virtue of his personal fallibility – the infallibility of the authority is therefore useless and followers are in no different or better position than they are under an fallible authority offering admitted reformable teaching.
    Christ/Apostles were infallible and offered irreformable teaching. NT believers didn’t mindmeld with them, but were in a different position than under random rabbi despite their personal fallibility. Rome is infallible and offers irreformable teaching. RC believers don’t mindmeld with it, but are in a different position than under random Protestant church despite their personal fallibility.

    Like

  195. Robert says:
    July 20, 2016 at 11:56 am
    Webby,>>>>

    Nastiness noted, Robert.

    I said:
    The point is that you Protestants are wrong in saying that the Deuteros cannot be Scripture.

    That is what you advocate. That is what you claim to be sure of.>>>>>

    Robert:
    Um, what we are advocating that the Deuteros are not Scripture. And we have good grounds for certainty on that, though not certainty that precludes even the logical possibility of error, which is what you guys are trying to get. And as Jeff has noted, you can’t attain that certainty even with your infallible Magisterium.>>>

    You claim that the Holy Spirit did not make it clear to the Church what Spirit-breathed Scripture is.

    Then you say that your list of books that the Holy Spirit inspired is clear. That is the real list, and the Deuteros are excluded.

    Catholics and EO got it wrong.

    The consensus is that you are right, even though the consensus is against you.

    What part of that is certain? It is your opinion.

    I said:
    Then, show less certainty when it comes to the Deuteros. Otherwise you are just blowing smoke.>>>>

    Robert:
    How much “less certainty” do you want than for Protestants to set forth a canonical list that we do not say is inspired?>>>>

    Apply your own principles to yourself first, and admit that the Deuteros MIGHT be Scripture since 1.) the consensus supports the position that they are indeed inspired 2.) many great saints and doctors of the Church accepted them as authoritative and even quoted from them in their writings. 3.) they had a huge influence on the NT writers.

    Yours is the minority position. It would be nice for you guys to be honest about that. You really do not know with the kind of certainty you claim to have.

    Like

  196. Make that:
    [Your appeal to] consensus is that you are right [and the rest of Christianity got it wrong]. The consensus [of all the Churches and congregations taken together] is against you.

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  197. James Young, “TM dovetails with S, hence STM-triad.”

    No it doesn’t. Where’s the magisterium in Paul?

    More like “T&M fill in where we need it to because Scripture doesn’t give us what we want. And lo, and behold, T&M are infallible.”

    A win win win.

    And then comes Francis.

    Like

  198. James Young, “the infallibility of the authority is therefore useless and followers are in no different or better position than they are under an fallible authority”

    Are you better off under Francis than Benedict XVI?

    Like

  199. Jeff,

    “If you mean that Christ’s words were divine truth, and that believers were justified in trusting His words, then I agree.”

    How were believers justified in trusting His words as divine truth given those words had to be processed by their fallible minds through filters?

    “The teaching is (hypothetically) certain; your understanding of it is not and can never be.”

    We can attain to certainty. Just as NT believers could and were expected to (consonant with the type of authority giving those teachings) as I cited – https://oldlife.org/2016/06/23/tying-yourself-up-in-knots/#comment-143965

    “But in any event, your 1 – 3 are not parallel to the 1a – 3a. In the case of Rome, you have a very, very large filter between you and the hypothetically irreformable dogma”

    The extent of the filter is irrelevant to your argument. If I’m not mindmelding with someone, I can never attain to certainty, as you argue also applied to NT believers. So if Jesus and the apostles materialized in your study tonight for an all-nighter discussion, you still would be in no different position than everyone else, simply because you aren’t mindmelding with them.

    “It removes those degrees of separation and places the individual directly in contact with our best estimate of what God’s irreformable truth is”

    As I said to Robert, if you apply this filter argument to Scripture, you undermine your own tribe’s position, or rather you affirm the argument that everything reduces to opinion in Protestantism.

    “It increases accuracy….Definitive clarification can help with those problems,”

    So someone without that increased accuracy is in a different position. And if accuracy can be increased, it stands that certainty can be attained.

    “Some do”

    How did they do this if they did not mindmeld with you?

    “but many require frequent repetition, seeing things from different angles, etc.”

    Of course. Who argues otherwise? That’s part of how growth in knowledge and understanding, correction of error, and certainty works.

    “Several things can and do go wrong.”

    Which is irrelevant. Just because people can err, does not mean they must and always err, or that erring is inherent to personal fallibility.

    “Having a source of “irreformable dogma” only addresses one of the many ways that a believer could be in error.”

    Okay, so there would be a difference in the position of followers of an authority offering irreformable dogma vs those of an authority rejecting that ability.

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  200. Jesus and the Apostles weren’t sentences and letters walking around.

    Translation: Scripture is a dead letter, not living and active, not sharper than any two-edged sword, unable to bring people to faith. It needs T and M to help it along.

    According to Jeff you only have a phantom and simulacrum of Jesus then. Since “you have a very, very large filter between you” and the words of Jesus. Namely, you have scribes, translators, copies of copies, councils of men distinguishing what is and isn’t canonical, and shifting interpretations over time. 10 filters at least – https://douglasbeaumont.com/2011/07/03/sola-scriptura-death-by-a-thousand-or-ten-qualifications/

    I see you haven’t answered Jeff, and frankly I don’t know how you can. So, your answer is to misapply his point.

    No simalcrum of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is quite able to use fallible copies of infallible revelation to save His people. He is able to make Jesus present to us through fallible translations, preachers, etc. You are the one who denies that Jesus can do such a thing through a fallible church, not us. For the Protestant, fallible copies of infallible things are perfectly adequate because that is what you have when you have a Creator-creature distinction and no mindmeld. We’re dealing with the epistemology God has actually given us, not the one that a philosopher thinks we should have.

    To adapt Jeff’s point, If you want the irreformable words of Jesus and thus Jesus Himself, you need the actual document produced by Christ or the Apostles; nothing else is (hypothetically) guaranteed to be infallible. Since you don’t have that, you don’t have Jesus Himself by your argument.

    What we need is an adequate representation of the actual document. If you would actually read Jeff, he is clear that an adequate representation of what Rome has taught infallibly is enough, it’s just not enough to give you “There’s no logical possibility that Cletus could be wrong about this” certainty. You demand something that can’t be provided. We’re not demanding it. We assert that Jesus can reveal Himself to His people via fallible representatives of His infallible revelation. You are the one who believes that to be impossible. It’s not a problem for us. We can have Jesus without adding layers of infallibility. You can’t. That’s the difference.

    There’s no equivocation. The argument from your side is – any personal infallibility on the submitting agent’s part to an infallible authority nukes the consequences of the infallible authority and its ability – that is, the follower has no principled means to distinguish divine truth from opinion or attain to certainty simply by virtue of his personal fallibility – the infallibility of the authority is therefore useless and followers are in no different or better position than they are under an fallible authority offering admitted reformable teaching.

    No, our argument is that the infallibility of the submitting agent means that you cannot attain “It is not logically possible for Cletus to be wrong” certainty. We freely admit we can attain the certainty appropriate for creatures. What you and Bryan and others are trying to produce in human beings is the same certainty God has about a given fact.

    Our argument is also that Jesus is not a principled means but a person.
    Our argument is that it is silly to double down on a principled means when that principled means cannot overcome the very thing that generates our need for it in the first place, our fallibility.

    Answer the question: If I were infallible, would I need an infallible means between me and the deposit.

    Christ/Apostles were infallible and offered irreformable teaching. NT believers didn’t mindmeld with them, but were in a different position than under random rabbi despite their personal fallibility. Rome is infallible and offers irreformable teaching. RC believers don’t mindmeld with it, but are in a different position than under random Protestant church despite their personal fallibility.

    As Jeff has noted, you have to asterisk every belief you have (*if indeed the church said and meant this). So did the first followers of Jesus (*if indeed Jesus said and meant this). So it turns out that the means you are looking for isn’t the claim.

    Which is consonant with our belief in the sovereign work of the Spirit through His living and active Word. But it’s not consonant with Rome, which doesn’t really have a place for the illumination of the Spirit, though is strangely alright with subjective personal revelations of Jesus and Mary. It’s not consonant with the Roman assumption that Scripture is dead and so terribly confusing that a person of ordinary intelligence could never read it and actually come to faith.

    Your entire position depends on generating enough skepticism on the part of the hapless Protestant before guiding Him to something that really can’t answer that skepticism. Maybe you shouldn’t introduce such skepticism to begin with.

    I mean, I can just imagine Abraham. The only thing he heard initially was “Get up and Go.” No, “I am the Lord, get up and go.” Abraham, “Hmmm, what is the principled means by which I know that this voice in my head is the voice of God. I have none. Better hang out here longer in Ur.”

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  201. James Young, “So if Jesus and the apostles materialized in your study tonight for an all-nighter discussion, you still would be in no different position than everyone else, simply because you aren’t mindmelding with them.”

    James Young, you have no room for the Holy Spirit.

    Like

  202. “The wcf notes ”
    What the wcf notes is itself reformable and subject to revision, as are all its teachings.

    If presbyterians were to revise Article I to deny that scripture is the self attesting word of God, then those presbyterians would cease to be SS-RP. This introductory article (dare I say self evident truth) can be denied of course (just as papal infallibility and the infallibility of the magisterium) can be denied by RCs. But to do so is reject the system.

    “Once one rejects the infallibility of God’s word you have a different religion (this was Machen’s point).”
    So RCism and EOxy are not different religions from Protestantism or Christianity in your view.
    Mormonism is not a different religion.

    You’re not making sense. The fact that rejecting-x means you are part of a different religion does not entail that confessing x means that you are part of the same religion.

    As I’ve said before, you’re already presuming a host of doctrines in this statement – revelation was given, it is closed, it was all written down in something called “God’s word”, it was all written down in only these particular books, it was all written down in only these particular passages in these books, that writing is fully inerrant, and so forth – all of which are offered as reformable and subject to revision in Protestantism.

    No. I recognize that there is a self attesting Word of God which is there to judge every other teaching. The reformable is not absolutely reformable, but reformable according to the scriptures. That condition that keep ignoring places the understanding of God’s word in another category. Insisting otherwise is to make up your own system.

    “A teaching is reformable insofar as it is made consonant with the word of God”
    Right and this is left to the individual’s judgment.

    Pretty sure *I* can’t revise the WCF – we have elders on sessions meeting in GAs for that.

    Such individuals admit their judgment is not infallible and can shift, and they feel no compunction in changing Protestant churches or confessions, nor should they, given those churches and confessions’ disclaimers to the type of authority that would merit pause.

    This is a straw man that certainly does not represent my experience. To leave our church for another congregation is pretty big deal which involves things like an interview with the session if you want a transfer of letter. To be sure, its a free country, so an RC can decide to be Buddhist for awhile, then change her mind and go back to church (maybe when she wants to be married in the basilica at ND).

    As was cited above, “For any doctrine you pick, you can find a church that either denies it or views it as merely optional. And why shouldn’t they? If no man or church is infallible, and Christian liberty of conscience is paramount, then any Christian may legitimately change their mind about what is and is not “essential,” and no man or church has the divinely granted authority to proclaim that such a person is wrong. Or right, of course. We’re all “pickers and choosers.””

    Which is why we have heresy trials in our church and require vows of submission for membership. Sorry, but this is just a straw man.

    “Still not sure what an infallible middle man adds to the Holy Spirit speaking through God’s living Word.”
    Does the Holy Spirit speak to you through Sirach, Book of Moroni, Gospel of Thomas, the longer ending of Mark?

    No. Not sure what help an infallible middle man is for these issues. Reason looks to be pretty good at differentiating the value of these texts.

    Did Christ and the Apostles let their followers who had the Holy Spirit just perpetually argue amongst themselves in disputes, or were they able to offer normative and binding judgments on those disputes?

    Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Of course every thing Christ said was infallible because he was God. Some disputes were settle definitively by the apostles, but obviously not all of them (note Peter’s consternation over Paul’s more difficult texts – why didn’t he just provide a clarifying epistle resolving those issues? Maybe because no revelation originated in the will of man?

    When you are in a dispute with someone who claims the Holy Spirit that you consider in grave error and they return the favor, and both are sincere in their belief, is the stalemate unresolvable?

    No more unresolvable than the competing claims of EOs and RCs.

    “Indeed a major theme in the gospels is that Jesus intentionally hid certain truths”
    Did Jesus hide this truth as well?

    Nope. Why do you ask? Do you really dispute that he claimed to only reveal those things by the Holy Spirit? Why was it that Peter and the disciples couldn’t make sense of things until Pentecost? Hmm….

    “but the enlightenment by the Holy Spirit. This isn’t to say there was no place for teachers only that even an infallible one was not a sufficient means for grasping truth.”

    Yup, faith and reason, as already acknowledged above. NT believers had the Holy Spirit, but that wasn’t all they had – they had infallible authorities offering irreformable teachings – faith wasn’t reduced to subjectivism and opinion.

    No. The apostles were not infallible (even while authoritative). They erred (as when Paul had to confront Peter). One of them betrayed Jesus if I recall correctly. Certainly not infallible. But when they wrote scripture, the situation was different:

    For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

    The apostles did not offer irreformable teachings, they provided God’s word. That word is irreformable. Their other teachings are reformable. To say that fallible inferences (doctrine) from data (scripture) are no more than opinion is to be an obscurantist.

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  203. James Young, “So if Jesus and the apostles materialized in your study tonight for an all-nighter discussion, you still would be in no different position than everyone else, simply because you aren’t mindmelding with them.”

    James Young, you have no room for the Holy Spirit.

    Exactly. The apostles had all that face time with Jesus – every single word he uttered was inerrant and infallible. Yet while they were cowering in the upper room, they did not understand anything they had heard the previous three years. Next thing you know, they are preaching the gospel with boldness. What happened? How was it that they came to understand so much without all that face time? Maybe it was because they were enlightened by the Holy Spirit? But I guess that means all they had was subjectivity and opinion. Right…

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  204. Robert,

    Scripture is a dead letter, not living and active, not sharper than any two-edged sword, unable to bring people to faith. It needs T and M to help it along”

    Scripture is not a dead letter. That doesn’t mean it’s Jesus Himself – are you worshipping your bible?
    Is the book of mormon living and active? What about Sirach and Wisdom? Is the pericope adulterae sharper than any sword?
    To even know what you appealed to was actually Scripture, you relied upon T and M. So you’re affirming T and M in same breath you argue against it.

    “You are the one who denies that Jesus can do such a thing through a fallible church, not us.”

    All your churches deny the ability and authority to offer irreformable teaching, so you’ve done it all yourselves without help.

    ” We’re dealing with the epistemology God has actually given us, not the one that a philosopher thinks we should have.”

    I agree. The epistemology we were given utilizes reason (and faith for believers) to attain certainty in natural or supernatural spheres and know truth and reality. We were not given an epistemology that reduces everything to opinion or asterisked “truths”, or forces us to adopt fideistic and skeptical presuppositions.

    “We can have Jesus without adding layers of infallibility.”

    There’s no additional “layers” – there’s just one – STM-triad. Protestantism offers no infallibility – all its teachings are reformable and fallible.

    “We freely admit we can attain the certainty appropriate for creatures.”

    NT believers were creatures. They had certainty you acknowledge you lack, as Jeff said, “The cost, as you point out, is that the individual is perhaps more free to run with his own opinions”. Rome affirms the same type of certainty NT believers had – the certitude of faith – the certainty you claim is impossible and illegitimate, hence your side’s QIRC charge. But considering even in the natural realm you affirm we can’t be certain of things like a cows natural abilities, it is not surprising the same type of skepticism would translate into our knowledge of divine truths.

    “Our argument is also that Jesus is not a principled means but a person.”

    Above, CVD: So Christ/Apostles were not a principled means for NT believers (who were fallible just like us) to distinguish reformable opinion from irreformable divine truth by your argument. See the problem?
    R: Sure they were, but they were divine revelation.

    “As Jeff has noted, you have to asterisk every belief you have ”

    Noting it and proving it are not identical. Do you asterisk this belief that you must asterisk every belief?

    “But it’s not consonant with Rome, which doesn’t really have a place for the illumination of the Spirit,”

    Vat1: “Therefore we define that every assertion contrary to the truth of enlightened faith is totally false”
    “Nevertheless, in order that the submission of our faith should be in accordance with reason, it was God’s will that there should be linked to the internal assistance of the Holy Spirit ”
    “Now, although the assent of faith is by no means a blind movement of the mind, yet no one can accept the gospel preaching in the way that is necessary for achieving salvation without the inspiration and illumination of the Holy Spirit, who gives to all facility in accepting and believing the truth”
    “Wherefore, when the Apostle, who witnesses that God was known to the gentiles from created things, comes to treat of the grace and truth which came by Jesus Christ, he declares: We impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glorification. None of the rulers of this age understood this. God has revealed it to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. And the Only-begotten himself, in his confession to the Father, acknowledges that the Father has hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to the little ones”

    Cath Enc:
    “The light of faith. — An angel understands truths which are beyond man’s comprehension; if then a man were called upon to assent to a truth beyond the ken of the human intellect, but within the grasp of the angelic intellect, he would require for the time being something more than his natural light of reason, he would require what we may call “the angelic light”. If, now, the same man were called upon to assent to a truth beyond the grasp of both men and angels, he would clearly need a still higher light, and this light we term “the light of faith” — a light, because it enables him to assent to those supernatural truths, and the light of faith because it does not so illumine those truths as to make them no longer obscure, for faith must ever be “the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not” .. The necessity of such light is evident from what has been said, for faith is essentially an act of assent, and just as assent to a series of deductive or inductive reasonings, or to intuition of first principles, would be impossible without the light of reason, so, too assent to a supernatural truth would be inconceivable without a supernatural strengthening of the natural light “Quid est enim fides nisi credere quod non vides?” (i.e. what is faith but belief in that which thou seest not?) asks St. Augustine; but he also says: “Faith has its eyes by which it in some sort sees that to be true which it does not yet see—and by which, too, it most surely sees that it does not see what it believes”

    “I mean, I can just imagine Abraham.”

    So Abraham had no more credibility or justification for his assent than a random mental institution patient hearing a voice in his head.

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  205. Darryl,

    So Protestant believers have the Holy Spirit, therefore they can have certainty with fallible churches offering reformable teaching. So if NT believers had the Holy Spirit, why did Christ and the Apostles offer irreformable teaching instead of reformable teaching? You keep forcing a false dichotomy between the Spirit and infallible authority. Christ and the Apostles could definitively judge and resolve disputes amongst believers that had the Holy Spirit. Rome can do so. Protestantism cannot, per its disclaimers.

    Further, since Protestant believers have the Holy Spirit, shouldn’t they be able to offer irreformable teaching then rather than disclaim it? Or does the Holy Spirit err? Or is it impossible for believers to ever distinguish what is given from the Holy Spirit and what is tainted by human error?

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  206. Scripture is not a dead letter. That doesn’t mean it’s Jesus Himself – are you worshipping your bible?

    To have the Word of God is to have Jesus Himself. Blessed are you who do not see and yet believe.

    Is the book of mormon living and active? What about Sirach and Wisdom? Is the pericope adulterae sharper than any sword?

    No.

    To even know what you appealed to was actually Scripture, you relied upon T and M. So you’re affirming T and M in same breath you argue against it.

    Sure I relied in part on T and M. I don’t deny it. But T and M aren’t the final reason why I know it is Scripture. The Spirit is. Just as many, many people are converted through just reading the Bible without the help of the T or the M.

    All your churches deny the ability and authority to offer irreformable teaching, so you’ve done it all yourselves without help.

    Actually, all we deny is that we have the ability to make a teaching irreformable merely by us saying so. And yes, you deny that Jesus can lead His people into all truth through fallible means. Which as Jeff notes, put you, Cletus, in quite the quandary.

    I agree. The epistemology we were given utilizes reason (and faith for believers) to attain certainty in natural or supernatural spheres and know truth and reality. We were not given an epistemology that reduces everything to opinion or asterisked “truths”, or forces us to adopt fideistic and skeptical presuppositions.

    This radical Thomistic division between natural and supernatural truths is not something most Protestant accept, so critiquing us based on Thomistic assumptions is part of your problem. And since you are not infallible, every single belief you hold is asterisked in some way. That doesn’t “reduce everything to mere opinion.” Your unstated assumption is actually “reduce everything to mere opinion that cannot possibly be adjudicated because divine revelation is hopelessly unclear.”

    And as far as skeptical presuppositions, I know of nothing that is rooted more in skepticism than this: “I need a principled means in order to figure out what God has said even when the words say ‘Thus saith the Lord.’”

    There’s no additional “layers” – there’s just one – STM-triad. Protestantism offers no infallibility – all its teachings are reformable and fallible.

    The M is the additional layer between you and the ST deposit.

    NT believers were creatures. They had certainty you acknowledge you lack, as Jeff said, “The cost, as you point out, is that the individual is perhaps more free to run with his own opinions”. Rome affirms the same type of certainty NT believers had – the certitude of faith – the certainty you claim is impossible and illegitimate, hence your side’s QIRC charge. But considering even in the natural realm you affirm we can’t be certain of things like a cows natural abilities, it is not surprising the same type of skepticism would translate into our knowledge of divine truths.

    I said we can be certain as appropriate to creatures. Unless it is logically impossible for a cow to attain to the ability to jump over the moon, you don’t have the kind of certainty you want. You want certainty without the logical possibility of error. You want the kind of certainty God has but you aren’t willing to go the extra step and grant it to you by asserting your own infalliblity.

    And no, you don’t affirm the same type of certainty NT believers have as long as you deny that the Magisterium is an organ of revelation and as long as you don’t have Jesus before you in the flesh. Moreover, the certainty Jesus provided, as SDB has noted, really wasn’t all that great until the Holy Spirit came. So at the end of the day, it took the Holy Spirit plus not the M but revelation Himself, even Jesus Christ, to attain to certainty.

    Above, CVD: So Christ/Apostles were not a principled means for NT believers (who were fallible just like us) to distinguish reformable opinion from irreformable divine truth by your argument. See the problem?

    I have Christ and the Apostles, thank you. You keep making this point as if Rome has the Apostles under lock and key.

    Noting it and proving it are not identical. Do you asterisk this belief that you must asterisk every belief?

    No, because surprise, surprise, that’s not how human beings actually live. Fallible knowledge is really quite adequate for creatures. It’s you all retreating to the realm of Plato’s ideal form that causes the problem.

    And as far as your quotes, if you had a real role for the confirmatory work of the Spirit, you would have no problem at all with the self-attestation of Scripture. But you really don’t like it. You’re fine with it for the church, but not for the Bible. Odd, especially since the church isn’t an organ of revelation and not the voice of God.

    So Abraham had no more credibility or justification for his assent than a random mental institution patient hearing a voice in his head.

    Sure he had more credibility. But he didn’t get it from anything other than the divine revelation itself, and that’s the point. No infallible mediator between God and Abraham. No principled means other than His fallible mind and the working of the Spirit. But if we were to follow your point to its logical end, Abraham was a fideist who had no idea whether he was really listening to God or to the contaminated meat he ate for breakfast. Hmmm.

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  207. Clete,

    Further, since Protestant believers have the Holy Spirit, shouldn’t they be able to offer irreformable teaching then rather than disclaim it? Or does the Holy Spirit err? Or is it impossible for believers to ever distinguish what is given from the Holy Spirit and what is tainted by human error?

    Honestly, the Holy Spirit doesn’t need our help. We conceive of church authority as declarative, as restating what God has already said. And the elect will receive what is good and not what is bad. Why does the Spirit need the church’s help to communicate with us. He didn’t have it with Abraham, and salvation still got off the ground. He didn’t have it in 100 BC and yet the Jews were still somehow able to discern that Genesis was Scripture. Jesus didn’t go up to Peter and say “I am the Messiah and have divine, infallible authority; therefore, follow me so that you can have a principled means to know what’s going on.” All he said was “Follow me,” and Jesus followed.

    In fact, at many of the critical junctures in redemptive history, we don’t have someone saying “I have infallible authority.” We don’t have even have God saying, “I am God.” And yet people got the message and salvation went forward. You’d think that if this was so necessary, God would have been clearer at various points. But no. Often we get “Do this,” or “Do that” without even an “I am the Lord” with it.

    But if I were infallible, would I need the “principled means” between me and the deposit?

    Like

  208. JRC: It increases accuracy….Definitive clarification can help with those problems,”

    CVD: So someone without that increased accuracy is in a different position. And if accuracy can be increased, it stands that certainty can be attained.

    That actually does not follow. As mentioned before, iterative methods do not in general produce results with zero error.

    You have mentally extrapolated from “error can be reduced” to “error cam be eliminated”, which is an unjustified leap.

    Again, I recommend looking up the mathematics of iterative methods.

    CVD: Which is irrelevant. Just because people can err, does not mean they must and always err…

    You’ve lost the plot a bit. No-one is arguing that people must err in their understanding. We’re arguing that they cannot assert “I am incapable of erring”, which is synonymous with “having certainty without possibility of error.”

    In other words, people who are capable of being wrong cannot assert that their understanding is incapable of being wrong.

    They might actually BE correct, but they cannot have 100% certainty about their correctness.

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  209. James Young, “Christ and the Apostles could definitively judge and resolve disputes amongst believers that had the Holy Spirit. Rome can do so. Protestantism cannot, per its disclaimers.”

    As Ronald Reagan said, “there you go again.” Rome’s pontiffs and bishops are not heirs of the apostles but the equivalent. Ongoing revelation goes on.

    If you read the Bible, you’ll notice that Christ and the apostles did not definitively judge and resolve disputes among believers. Paul vs. Peter? How the mind melts.

    You talk like infallibility not only yields certainty but ends division. And you live in the American Roman Catholic church?

    Stop!!! You’re looking increasingly silly.

    Liked by 2 people

  210. Darryl,

    Was the council of Jerusalem’s decision optional for believers? Were churches free to ignore Paul’s judgments?

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  211. sdb,

    “If presbyterians were to revise Article I”

    Which is a legitimate move allowed by WCF’s disclaimers.

    “The fact that rejecting-x means you are part of a different religion”
    “Once one rejects the infallibility of God’s word”

    The point was the identification of what God’s word consists of is reformable and subject to revision in Protestantism.

    “The reformable is not absolutely reformable, but reformable according to the scriptures.”

    And the extent and scope of the Scriptures is reformable in your system. As are the other doctrines you presuppose – revelation was given, it is closed, it is confined to writing, that writing is fully inerrant, that writing is formally sufficient and sole infallible authority, etc. So the reformable is reformable according to the reformable, and this teaching is itself reformable.

    “Pretty sure *I* can’t revise the WCF – we have elders on sessions meeting in GAs for that. ”

    Elders and GAs whose judgments are only authoritative insofar as they conform to your judgment of Scripture’s meaning. Because of Elders and GAs who agree they have no divine protection or guarantee in their judgments and decisions.

    “To leave our church for another congregation is pretty big deal which involves things like an interview with the session if you want a transfer of letter. ”

    To leave certain social clubs, schools, and places of employment can also be a pretty big deal which involves things like interviews with management or leadership if you want a transfer. The church is more than a country club. If you deem your church is no longer teaching Scripturally, talk with elders and still aren’t convinced, you are perfectly justified and within your rights by that church’s disclaimers in leaving.

    “Which is why we have heresy trials in our church and require vows of submission for membership.”

    And those trials and those above you can be in error according to your disclaimers. Do you follow the judgments of heresy trials of other Protestant churches? No, because there’s no reason for you to do so, nor should they follow yours, because in Protestantism “no man or church [is infallible] and has the divinely granted authority to proclaim that such a person is wrong. Or right, of course.” Did you follow the judgments of Leithart’s trial? Will you continue to submit as a member if you judge your church is no longer teaching according to Scripture, either because it has shifted in its teaching, or you have shifted in your interpretation, or both?

    “Some disputes were settle definitively by the apostles”

    Great. And that was done by virtue of their authority and ability. This cannot be done in Protestantism, since all their churches disclaim that type of authority and ability.

    “No more unresolvable than the competing claims of EOs and RCs. ”

    EO and RC make claims to authority that would merit pause amongst someone disagreeing with them. Protestant churches do not, thus perpetual stalemates and disputes.

    “Nope. Why do you ask?”

    To demonstrate Jesus offered irreformable truths to his followers they could grasp.

    “Certainly not infallible. But when they wrote scripture, the situation was different:”

    Was the council of Jerusalem’s decision fallible? Was every judgment the apostles made fallible until it later got written down? Why do these same writers then command their hearers and successors to hold to unwritten tradition and teachings as well as written?

    “Maybe it was because they were enlightened by the Holy Spirit?”

    Yes, that’s why they had the certitude of faith, as did their followers. So if Protestants are enlightened, why do they reject such certainty and only offer reformable teachings and opinion?

    Liked by 1 person

  212. Jeff:
    They might actually BE correct, but they cannot have 100% certainty about their correctness.>>>>

    This statement of yours cannot be correct. In order to be correct, you, Jeff, have to assert 100% certainty, which you claim you cannot have.

    If you say “…probably cannot have 100% certainty” then your statement might be more consistent.

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  213. SDB: As Jeff has noted, you have to asterisk every belief you have ”

    cVD: Noting it and proving it are not identical.

    Actually, I did provide a proof.

    CVD: Do you asterisk this belief that you must asterisk every belief?

    Technically, I was saying that a believing Catholic must do so.

    But you want to the extend the reasoning to others, and I agree: since I am fallible, it is possible that the proof is incorrect. Sure — there is a small chance that there’s an error in the proof.

    Let’s estimate that chance. There’s really only one idea in the proof: An individual who lacks infallibility cannot, by definition, be infallible in his knowledge.

    This idea is extended to fallible authorities, who likewise cannot present their teachings as infallible.

    It’s an argument from definition.

    So, this argument *could* be wrong. But what are the chances of that? 0.0001%? Lower?

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  214. MWF: This statement of yours cannot be correct. In order to be correct, you, Jeff, have to assert 100% certainty, which you claim you cannot have.

    If you say “…probably cannot have 100% certainty” then your statement might be more consistent.

    A statement can be correct without requiring certainty.

    Correctness simply means “corresponding to reality.” Certainty means “knowing that your belief is correct” (or “is probably correct”, depending on the theory of knowledge).

    So no, I don’t need certainty to be correct. The kid who guesses that 53 is prime is correct, even if he can’t prove it.

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  215. “Which is a legitimate move allowed by WCF’s disclaimers.”
    No it isn’t. The disclaimers are that the WCF’s teaching is reformable according to God’s Word.

    “The point was the identification of what God’s word consists of is reformable and subject to revision in Protestantism.”
    I don’t know about “protestantism”, but focusing on those who adhere to the wcf, I suppose one could reform the confession to claim that scripture is not self-attesting and not dependent on what the wcf (or what any other person, or group of persons, says it is). I guess anything is possible, but that would be the formation of a different religion as Machen pointed out. We don’t believe that the scripture is the word of God because the WCF says so. We believe the WCF because it is consonant with the word of God. God’s word is prior and the WCF simply recognizes that fact – it doesn’t establish it as a dogma that can be reformed or not.

    Now you might want to discuss why we believe the word of God is prior, how we know what it is, etc… That could be an interesting conversation, but that is not the conversation we are having. Note that your hypothetical that we could revise the WCF to change our identification of scripture hasn’t happened in any of the protestant groups (including the majority of which that reject sola scriptura). Somehow prots who supposedly disagree about *everything* agree on the scope of the canon. Maybe it is self attesting after all? Meanwhile EOs, RCs, Copts, Assyrians all disagree with one another about the scope of the canon. Indeed, for 1600yrs there was debate among western Christians about the scope of the canon.

    It is rather strange that you insist on defining our system for us and telling us what we really believe. It isn’t productive or convincing. You might disagree with our system, but if the dialog is going to be productive, we should at least be able to define our own beliefs.

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  216. “Pretty sure *I* can’t revise the WCF – we have elders on sessions meeting in GAs for that. ”
    Elders and GAs whose judgments are only authoritative insofar as they conform to your judgment of Scripture’s meaning. Because of Elders and GAs who agree they have no divine protection or guarantee in their judgments and decisions.

    This is false. I submit my understanding to my Elders and am formed by their teaching. Though perhaps you know better? The fact that they could be wrong does not mean that I don’t trust their collective judgment more than my own. My doctor is fallible, but unless I have really very, very solid evidence to the contrary, I follow even the counter-intuitive advice that comes from fallible medical professionals. I don’t just submit to their authority when their judgment conforms to my own. That’s not to say the I would never have warrant for dissenting from their advice, but the fact that I could warrant for dissent does not entail that they are not an authority or that their fallible advice is like just an opinion man.

    “To leave our church for another congregation is pretty big deal which involves things like an interview with the session if you want a transfer of letter. ”
    To leave certain social clubs, schools, and places of employment can also be a pretty big deal which involves things like interviews with management or leadership if you want a transfer. The church is more than a country club. If you deem your church is no longer teaching Scripturally, talk with elders and still aren’t convinced, you are perfectly justified and within your rights by that church’s disclaimers in leaving.

    You need to check those disclaimers again and then compare your characterization to reality. Perhaps ask Jason what happened when he left his church and how his session responded (particularly when he wanted to attend church at Christmas – the frozen chosen were not moved). Perhaps you should accept our own characterization of our faith and how it words rather than imputing your (ahem) *fallible* construal about what we really mean.

    “Which is why we have heresy trials in our church and require vows of submission for membership.”
    And those trials and those above you can be in error according to your disclaimers. Do you follow the judgments of heresy trials of other Protestant churches? No, because there’s no reason for you to do so, nor should they follow yours, because in Protestantism “no man or church [is infallible] and has the divinely granted authority to proclaim that such a person is wrong. Or right, of course.” Did you follow the judgments of Leithart’s trial? Will you continue to submit as a member if you judge your church is no longer teaching according to Scripture, either because it has shifted in its teaching, or you have shifted in your interpretation, or both?

    Are RC heresy trials infallible? I seem to recall you claiming earlier that they aren’t.

    “Some disputes were settle definitively by the apostles”
    Great. And that was done by virtue of their authority and ability. This cannot be done in Protestantism, since all their churches disclaim that type of authority and ability.

    No it wasn’t. It was accomplished by the fact that their prophetic word did not originate in their will. It was original revelation being delivered. Their opinions about all sorts of other things that did originate in their will were fallible and successful to varying degrees.

    “No more unresolvable than the competing claims of EOs and RCs. ”
    EO and RC make claims to authority that would merit pause amongst someone disagreeing with them. Protestant churches do not, thus perpetual stalemates and disputes.

    The perpetual stalemates and disputes among EOs and RCs result from their claims to authority? I think not. We also have an infallible, self attesting living authority that moves the hearts of men. It speaks today and is the supreme authority. It merits pause amongst those disagreeing with that authority.

    “Nope. Why do you ask?”
    To demonstrate Jesus offered irreformable truths to his followers they could grasp.

    You failed. His followers did not grasp the truths he offered. That’s why Pentecost was necessary.

    “Certainly not infallible. But when they wrote scripture, the situation was different:”
    Was the council of Jerusalem’s decision fallible? Was every judgment the apostles made fallible until it later got written down? Why do these same writers then command their hearers and successors to hold to unwritten tradition and teachings as well as written?

    Was the council of Jerusalem in scripture. Reread 2 Peter 1.

    “Maybe it was because they were enlightened by the Holy Spirit?”
    Yes, that’s why they had the certitude of faith, as did their followers. So if Protestants are enlightened, why do they reject such certainty and only offer reformable teachings and opinion?

    fallible =/=opinion. Or is everything you say just an opinion? If so, cool that’s like your opinion man. Tomatoh/Tomahto. But you’ll notice that we don’t offer the Bible as a reformable teaching, but as a prior (dare I say “self evident”) truth. Rejecting that truth is equivalent to the RC rejecting catholicism. It’s a free country, but once you do so, you’re onto a different system.

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  217. So Jeff, are you telling me that if I pick the winning powerball numbers, they are correct even if I am not certain they are? Whoa…

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  218. sdb says:
    July 20, 2016 at 9:43 pm
    So Jeff, are you telling me that if I pick the winning powerball numbers, they are correct even if I am not certain they are? Whoa…>>>>

    I think he’s saying that the Catholic Church got it right about the canon of Scripture whether he is certain of it or not.

    It matches reality.

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  219. Robert,

    “And yes, you deny that Jesus can lead His people into all truth through fallible means.”

    Is the Holy Spirit – which is the means Jesus leads His people into all truth – fallible? Is “all truth” all asterisked truth?

    “This radical Thomistic division between natural and supernatural truths is not something most Protestant accept”

    Scripture attests to this distinction (the “radical division” are your words). I can’t believe this is controversial. You’re not a pantheist or a pelagian.

    “I need a principled means in order to figure out what God has said even when the words say ‘Thus saith the Lord.’”

    Does every book and verse you accept as God’s word identify itself as such? Do books you reject and disputed passages say such with similar tone? Given every Protestant church and body denies the ability to offer irreformable teaching, every “Thus saith the Lord” ends with “we think, until further notice”.

    “The M is the additional layer between you and the ST deposit.”

    No, STM all attest to each other.

    “I said we can be certain as appropriate to creatures.”

    Right, and NT believers were certain as appropriate to creatures. So can we.

    “Unless it is logically impossible for a cow to attain to the ability to jump over the moon, you don’t have the kind of certainty you want. ”

    It is logically impossible for a cow to attain moon-jumping abilities of its own nature. We know this because we can and do know what a cow’s nature is. Is it logically impossible for there to be a round square? Is it logically impossible for the law of non-contradiction to be false?

    “You want the kind of certainty God has”

    God is omniscient and infallible. Humans are not. That does not mean we can never attain to certainty or know truth and reality, either in the natural sphere, or in the supernatural sphere where such truths are given on the authority of God – thus the CCC “we believe “because of the authority of God himself who reveals them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived”…Faith is certain. It is more certain than all human knowledge because it is founded on the very word of God who cannot lie”

    “And no, you don’t affirm the same type of certainty NT believers have as long as you deny that the Magisterium is an organ of revelation and as long as you don’t have Jesus before you in the flesh.”

    I can definitely affirm that as long as you posit that the certainty I advance can only be had by mindmelding. NT believers did not mindmeld with infallible organs of revelation. Were NT believers therefore in no different position from those under fallible authorities offering admitted reformable teaching?

    “Moreover, the certainty Jesus provided, as SDB has noted, really wasn’t all that great until the Holy Spirit came.”

    Your criticisms of certainty apply to post-Pentecost examples. I agree the Spirit illumines. And yet Protestantism still doesn’t have this “great” certainty – it claims the same Holy Spirit, then refuses to offer anything certain. Rome claims the Holy Spirit is what grants her infallible authority and protection. Protestantism rejects that authority and ability.

    “No, because surprise, surprise, that’s not how human beings actually live. ”

    Exactly right. Which is why skepticism is self-defeating. So you can abandon it, or you can keep maintaining you must asterisk every belief, except for that belief, and be inconsistent.

    “And as far as your quotes, if you had a real role for the confirmatory work of the Spirit”

    Right, so the quotes are lying. RCs don’t believe they are illumined by the Spirit in attaining the certitude of faith. Rome doesn’t teach the Magisterium is guided and protected by the Spirit in her infallibility.

    “Abraham was a fideist”

    Abraham had reasons for believing what he did – that’s why he has more credibility than the mental patient as you agree. If you want to claim you are being spoken to directly by God a la Abraham or receiving new revelation, the conversation would shift.

    “We conceive of church authority as declarative, as restating what God has already said.”

    This is the restatement: “This is what God has already said … we think, probably, but keep an asterisk on it to be safe”.

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  220. Jeff,

    “iterative methods do not in general produce results with zero error.”

    “Do not in general” does not equate to “never does and absolutely cannot”. You are saying accuracy can be increased, but never reach 100%. What’s the upper limit then? 50%? 99.9%? Then please explain how you arrived at that certainty.

    “No-one is arguing that people must err in their understanding.”

    Great. So you can have inerrant understanding. You can have 100% accurate understanding of an infallible authority’s teaching, as well as a non-infallible authority’s teaching. You didn’t even have to mindmeld.

    “They might actually BE correct, but they cannot have 100% certainty about their correctness.”

    Are they 100% certain that they cannot have 100% certainty?

    “So, this argument *could* be wrong. But what are the chances of that? 0.0001%? Lower?”

    You tell me. 0% is out of the question by your lights. So what arbitrary number would you like to pull out? Regardless, you’re either inconsistent in not asterisking the belief you must asterisk every belief, or you have to asterisk that belief and then asterisk that belief and it’s turtles all the way down.

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  221. Clete,

    Is the Holy Spirit – which is the means Jesus leads His people into all truth – fallible? Is “all truth” all asterisked truth?

    The Holy Spirit is infallible and truth is truth if it corresponds to reality. My hearing of the Spirit isn’t infallible.

    Scripture attests to this distinction (the “radical division” are your words). I can’t believe this is controversial. You’re not a pantheist or a pelagic.

    Scripture says that God reveals Himself in nature and in special revelation and that His revelation of Himself in nature isn’t enough to save anyone. It doesn’t say you need an infallible mediator between the individual and the revelation in one sphere and not the other. You want an infallible mediator for one but not another, apparently to justify the church’s claims.

    Does every book and verse you accept as God’s word identify itself as such? Do books you reject and disputed passages say such with similar tone? Given every Protestant church and body denies the ability to offer irreformable teaching, every “Thus saith the Lord” ends with “we think, until further notice”.

    Last time I checked, Rome hasn’t identified everything either. So moving on.

    No, STM all attest to each other.

    So the M doesn’t stand between you and the deposit to give you the accurate interpretation of the deposit (the S and the T)? What are we talking about then.

    Right, and NT believers were certain as appropriate to creatures. So can we.

    I agree. And the means of certainty for us are the the same as for the NT believers, namely divine revelation. What you have yet to demonstrate is that words heard with the ear from a guy in the same room as you are self-attesting and that words on the page are not.

    It is logically impossible for a cow to attain moon-jumping abilities of its own nature.

    Really. Isn’t your church the one that embraces evolution full on? A cow cannot evolve the ability to jump over the moon? How do you know? How do you know that there has not yet been a cow discovered that can do such a thing?

    We know this because we can and do know what a cow’s nature is.

    And how do we know what the cow’s nature is? By induction. And of course, it is well known that induction can’t give you the kind of certainty that you are trying to obtain. Now if you accept self-attesting divine revelation, you can combine that with induction for certainty appropriate to creatures. But then you’ve conceded the Protestant argument.

    Is it logically impossible for there to be a round square? Is it logically impossible for the law of non-contradiction to be false?

    No on both counts.

    God is omniscient and infallible. Humans are not. That does not mean we can never attain to certainty or know truth and reality, either in the natural sphere, or in the supernatural sphere where such truths are given on the authority of God – thus the CCC “we believe “because of the authority of God himself who reveals them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived”…Faith is certain. It is more certain than all human knowledge because it is founded on the very word of God who cannot lie”

    Truths in the natural sphere and in the supernatural sphere are both given on the authority of God. So if I don’t need infallibility in one, I don’t need it in the other.

    I can definitely affirm that as long as you posit that the certainty I advance can only be had by mindmelding. NT believers did not mindmeld with infallible organs of revelation. Were NT believers therefore in no different position from those under fallible authorities offering admitted reformable teaching?

    The advantage only obtains upon the illumination of the Spirit. NT believers had the words of Apostles and Jesus plus the Spirit with no infallible church standing between them and the Apostles/Christ. They got along just fine. The Protestant claim is that we have the same thing. You want to make a comparison, but there was no M of the sort Rome is in those days, so either M has to become an organ of revelation or you need to quit using the example.

    Your criticisms of certainty apply to post-Pentecost examples. I agree the Spirit illumines. And yet Protestantism still doesn’t have this “great” certainty – it claims the same Holy Spirit, then refuses to offer anything certain. Rome claims the Holy Spirit is what grants her infallible authority and protection. Protestantism rejects that authority and ability.

    Yes, and Protestantism also rejects the idea that an infallible mediator between us and the deposit is necessary to give individuals certainty.

    Exactly right. Which is why skepticism is self-defeating. So you can abandon it, or you can keep maintaining you must asterisk every belief, except for that belief, and be inconsistent.

    But it’s not our position that requires you first to generate intense skepticism with respect to divine matters. That is the CtC argument. I’m still waiting for you to answer the question: If I were infallible, would I need the infallible Magisterium standing between me and the deposit.

    Right, so the quotes are lying. RCs don’t believe they are illumined by the Spirit in attaining the certitude of faith. Rome doesn’t teach the Magisterium is guided and protected by the Spirit in her infallibility.

    The quotes aren’t lying. An affirmation of divine illumination isn’t consistent with a denial of the self-attesting nature of God’s Word. And I’m still waiting for you to tell me how a faithful Jew could rightly know Genesis was Scripture in the first century and how Jesus could expect that of him apart from His say so or an infallible Magisterium.

    Abraham had reasons for believing what he did – that’s why he has more credibility than the mental patient as you agree.

    Sure he did. What were they? There was no infallible Magisterium. In the initial contact, God didn’t even say “I am God” (Gen. 12:1–9) And yet Abraham followed. So either you have to posit God saying “I am God,” which wasn’t recorded, or you have to say that God was somehow able to convince Abraham that He was speaking and that God Himself by illumination or some other method is the principled means you are looking for. The first is speculative and has no motives of credibility. The second concedes the Protestant position.

    If you want to claim you are being spoken to directly by God a la Abraham or receiving new revelation, the conversation would shift.

    Because the Bible is no dead letter, every time I read it or hear it read, I am being spoken to directly by God.

    This is the restatement: “This is what God has already said … we think, probably, but keep an asterisk on it to be safe”.

    But you’ve admitted there are things Rome could do that would get you to leave. So you are asterisking the very first act of implicit faith. Back in the same final boat it seems.

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  222. CVD: Do not in general” does not equate to “never does and absolutely cannot”. You are saying accuracy can be increased, but never reach 100%. What’s the upper limit then? 50%? 99.9%? Then please explain how you arrived at that certainty.

    The least upper bound is 100% certainty. You need to do some homework first. Until you get some basic familiarity with iterative methods, we can’t even have a conversation about error bounds.

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  223. CVD: Great. So you can have inerrant understanding.

    Did not claim otherwise. This whole conversation has been about infallible understanding, not inerrant understanding.

    The difference, of course, is that infallible understanding could not have been wrong pre-facto. while inerrant is in fact correct post-facto.

    You can do math inerrantly by getting a 100%. You can’t do math infallibly.

    But see, you knew that. So why the verbal sleight of hand?

    Let’s review the bidding.

    The claim is that fallible listeners have a non-zero chance of misunderstanding, else they would be infallible.

    Hence, while their understanding might be correct, it cannot be certain, because that would imply a 0% chance of error by definition, which would contradict the listener’s fallibility.

    At this point, you have produced a counter-argument.

    You have noted, helpfully, that

    * fallible listeners can be correct (true)
    * fallible listeners can iterate to reduce misunderstanding (correct, but tricky)
    * the fallibility of the listener does not denigrate the infallibility of a speaker (true).

    These points are helpful, but do not constitute a method by which a fallible listener can achieve certainty.

    Do you actually have a counterargument? If not, then let’s close the matter.

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  224. Well, and see — fallibility.

    I should have said,

    At this point, you not have produced a counter-argument.

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  225. “CVD: Great. So you can have inerrant understanding.

    Did not claim otherwise. This whole conversation has been about infallible understanding, not inerrant understanding.

    The difference, of course, is that infallible understanding could not have been wrong pre-facto. while inerrant is in fact correct post-facto.

    You can do math inerrantly by getting a 100%. You can’t do math infallibly.

    But see, you knew that. So why the verbal sleight of hand?

    Let’s review the bidding.

    The claim is that fallible listeners have a non-zero chance of misunderstanding, else they would be infallible.

    Hence, while their understanding might be correct, it cannot be certain, because that would imply a 0% chance of error by definition, which would contradict the listener’s fallibility.

    At this point, you have produced a counter-argument.

    You have noted, helpfully, that

    * fallible listeners can be correct (true)
    * fallible listeners can iterate to reduce misunderstanding (correct, but tricky)
    * the fallibility of the listener does not denigrate the infallibility of a speaker (true).

    These points are helpful, but do not constitute a method by which a fallible listener can achieve certainty.

    Do you actually have a counterargument? If not, then let’s close the matter.”

    I don’t know Jeff, what Cletus is doing is what I and MWF were trying to get at. He is doing a fantastic job.
    Hear him out.

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  226. Susan, you have no certainty that you will go to heaven. Does that put you with papal infallibility in a “better position”?

    If you die in mortal sin, it’s over. You don’t control how or when you die. Think about it.

    Or do you rely on a Protestant understanding of perseverance of the saints while going to the Roman Catholic cafeteria for papal infallibility and swoon inducing certainty?

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  227. Susan,

    You have repeatedly said that you became RC because you were looking for a certainty that you could not find in Protestantism. Why can you not attain such certainty in Protestantism? It isn’t merely because the Protestant church is fallible. After all, you believe you can have certainty that 2+2=4 even though fallible authorities—your first grade teacher, your math book—give you that fact, at least initially.

    So your real beef doesn’t seem to be with fallible teachers and authorities. Cletus alludes to this repeatedly when he admits that though he is fallible, he can attain to certainty that 2+2=4 despite being taught that fact by fallible authorities.

    There are only two ways you can make that argument.

    1. You can deny that 2+2=4 is a divinely revealed truth. But then that gives you separate categories of truth that do not find their grounding in God, positing the existing of truth outside of God. I don’t think you or Cletus want to do that.

    2. The truth of 2+2=4 is self attesting and your fallible teacher, though helpful, is not what gives you certainty about it. What gives you certainty is the truth itself. But if that is true, there is no reason to demand an infallible middleman between you and divinely revealed truth, and you have conceded the Protestant position.

    If fallible you—fallible authority—divinely revealed truth can give you sufficient certainty, then I don’t know why you need fallible you—infallible authority—divinely revealed truth to give you sufficient certainty.

    And it is very clear that people who are not in submission to any Christian authority can come to certainty about what the NT teaches. Luke Timothy Johnson, a Roman Catholic New Testament scholar, is certain that Paul teaches that homosexual its is wrong. He just says Paul is incorrect. So Johnson has certainty about what Paul says, He just doesn’t believe it. Which goes to show that the work of the Spirit is less explaining the revelation and more giving you the faith to believe the revelation.

    We even see this with the Apostles. They object to Jesus’ predictions of his death. Why? It’s not because they don’t understand that Jesus told them, “I have to die.” They are certain that that is what Jesus meant. They don’t accept his predictions because they don’t believe that such would be necessary. They have certainty of Jesus’ teaching but not faith in it. That’s the primary work of the Spirit. It’s what you guys are missing by employing a radical skepticism against Protestantism and treating special revelation as an object of knowledge wholly different from natural revelation. It borders on gnosticism at times, frankly.

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  228. ” These points are helpful, but do not constitute a method by which a fallible listener can achieve certainty.”

    Jeff, I wonder if too much is riding on the term “certainty”. We can think of it statistically when tied to measurement and well defined probability distributions. But I am not so sure it applies to non-quantitative subjects like history or theology. What do you think? I get Plantinga’so BayesIan argument for the rationality of theistic belief, but even there it strikes me as a more analogical justification.

    Of course the use of certainty is psychological confidence. Here 99% sure and so forth don’t make a lot of sense. The reality is that we are certain of many things that are wrong. The more interesting question to me is, “when are we justified in our certainty?” I suspect the wcf has this in mind in article I: while we may come up with evidence for the legitimacy of Scripture, we can be and are certain we have God’s Word only by the direct inward illumination of the Holy Spirit. This reality and certainty does not depend on the testimony of man or church, but is prior (which is why cvds argument fails here). It is in many ways similar to the role “church” plays in his system.

    Anyway, it seems to me the question isn’t who is more certain or who can be more certain. The question is whose certainty is warranted by their system. There are also interesting sociological questions about whose system is more effective at inculcating adherence and so forth, but that is a different question.

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  229. mrswebfoot says:I think he’s saying that the Catholic Church got it right about the canon of Scripture whether he is certain of it or not. It matches reality.

    Mrsw, this does not match reality:
    A holy and wholesome thought it is to pray for the dead, for their guilt’s undoing and to pay a sum of twelve thousand silver pieces to have sacrifice made for the guilt of dead companions.

    No fire burns so high but water may quench it; alms giving was ever sin’s atoning

    Almsgiving is death’s avoiding, is guilt’s atoning, is the winning of mercy and of life eternal

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  230. Nor is this reality, mrsw: A fish heart has this virtue, that if a morsel of it be laid on the coals, the smoke will rid man or woman of the fiend’s harassing, and that forever

    But this is reality:
    Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil; take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day;gird your waist with truth, put on the breastplate of righteousness, shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; take the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one;take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints

    Like

  231. Robert:
    Why can you not attain such certainty in Protestantism?>>>>>

    In Protestantism, nothing is certain. You and Jeff have spent months, if not years, proving that. I am convinced.

    There is no certainty in anything you believe. Protestantism reflects that reality.

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  232. Ali, if you want to know what the Catholic Church teaches, read the Catechism of the Catholic Church. You don’t know what Catholicism is.

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  233. Mermaid, if Rome offers such certainty, then why is the church in the U.S. such a mess? You look at the evidence of Protestantism to prove we’re flawed. But it never works that way for you. The epistemology seminar professor says you cook the books. Or you’re gullible.

    I say the latter.

    But at least show a little modesty when you have institutions like Marquette University to explain. Are you for real?

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  234. mrswebfoot says:Ali, if you want to know what the Catholic Church teaches, read the Catechism of the Catholic Church. You don’t know what Catholicism is

    mrsw, what do I need that I don’t have; I keep wondering, which the men here keep posing -what did you, Susan, Cletus need that you did not have already. Is Jesus a liar?… by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.” 1 Cor 1:30-31 If you received that, why do you boast as if you had not received it?

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  235. Hi Darryl,

    “Susan, you have no certainty that you will go to heaven. Does that put you with papal infallibility in a “better position”?

    If you die in mortal sin, it’s over. You don’t control how or when you die. Think about it.

    Or do you rely on a Protestant understanding of perseverance of the saints while going to the Roman Catholic cafeteria for papal infallibility and swoon inducing certainty?”

    My thoughts and actions have consequences just like everyone else, including the virtuous pagan Aristotle who didn’t know that we have a supernatural end and see as through a mirror dimly( belief in God without real sight), but can have the beatific vision by grace when our natural end finally comes.

    And our actions have consequences like the Semitic people to whom the monotheistic God revealed Himself, giving certainty that He was One even though man could come to that idea by ourselves using logic, yet not know that this Being is simple, or trinity, or love; and they still turned away doing deplorable things and dying in their trespasses. In other words, covenant people are supposed to obey the revealer( Our Father) who demonstrated His love by calling us again and again into His divine family through covenental oaths. For us to break covenant by behaving immorally( sinning) brings about the flipside of the covenant, and the flipside are curses.
    If we confess our trespasses He is faithful and just to forgive our trespasses, but this isn’t a one time conversion story for us individually just like it wasn’t a one time conversion story for the protagonists in the OT with whom God made many covenants.
    There is no greater covenant than the New where God himself is the slain lamb, but even we who God covenants with can choose to sin and suffer the flipside.

    Another point is that the gospel as understood by Luther isn’t the real gospel truth. You cannot die in the arms of a prostitute and expect to go to heaven anyways. There is no license to sin. A Christian should want to avoid sin. By the way, want to better avoid sin? Look at a crucifix.
    Why would God grant a person who is sinning gravely,and knows he is sinning gravely, even though he promised fidelity to God, to go to heaven? Protestantism can’t offer final assurance that is certain. If you woke up in someone else’s bed after a night of binge drinking, you’d be sorrowful and worried about your soul. Thank God, that the Holy Spirit keeps giving us actual grace to move us to repentence, eh?!
    I pray that I and my loved ones don’t play roulette with our souls.

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  236. “Protestantism can’t offer final assurance that is certain.”
    Nope. Good thing we don’t look to protestantism to be the founder and perfecter of our faith. But I know who is!

    Like

  237. ” Repent and believe the gospel”means to believe the covenant oath and become a member of the divine family behaving not as a slaves but as a sons, it does not mean that we believe in Jesus’s imputed righteousness. If that were the truth, I need repent only once. Or maybe, I would just believe in imputed righteousness without repentence since my faith( in imputed righteousness) is evidence of my election anyways.

    But I lost faith (because of their being many Christianities) and I sinned gravely, so I questioned my election….

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  238. sdb says:
    July 21, 2016 at 11:52 am
    “Protestantism can’t offer final assurance that is certain.”
    Nope. Good thing we don’t look to protestantism to be the founder and perfecter of our faith. But I know who is!>>>>

    I do, too! So, Protestantism is of no significance since it offers no real assurance in spite of its claims to the contrary.

    Finally! One of you guys mentioned the Author and Perfecter of our faith.

    Now, factor in that pillar and ground [butress] of the truth.

    See 1 Timothy 3:15

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  239. “If [“Repent and believe the gospel”means to believe in Jesus’s imputed righteousness] were the truth, I need repent only once.”

    Well I don’t think I would say that “Repent and believe the gospel means to believe in Jesus’s imputed righteousness”, but setting that aside, why would that phrase imply one only needs to repent only once? Doesn’t strike me as consistent with WCs/TFU, but maybe I’m not thinking so clearly right before lunch.

    Of course if a believer rejects the gospel, she shouldn’t have assurance of her salvation – as John tells us, those that fall away were never in to begin with.

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  240. sdb,

    “Nope. Good thing we don’t look to protestantism to be the founder and perfecter of our faith. But I know who is!”

    Well, I used to look to protestantism( think on that word. It’s negative. It affims nothing. It dissents) to tell me what the gospel is, as if the covenants people of God never knew before the birth of Luther.
    My faith is in Jesus, the same Jesus that thought it necessary to communicate graces through sacraments and so instituted a church to do so. Do you deny the need for intermediaries? The apostles and the scriptures are intermediaries too you know.

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  241. “Of course if a believer rejects the gospel, she shouldn’t have assurance of her salvation – as John tells us, those that fall away were never in to begin with.”

    Thanks for that, sdb, thanks a while bunch.

    If your wife, mother or daughter told you they are convinced of the historical Jesus and believe he’s God and died, rose again BUT do not believe that Luther and Calvin understood correctly, would you tell them that they were denying the gospel?

    Look at that, I’m not only in a false church, I have no hope since I also deny Luther’s gospel.
    No Catholics will be saved and all Catholics before the Reformation are doomed because the Church never never taught justification by faith alone or imputation( it was lost or repressed, remember?)
    But Luther is possibly wrong as is the WCoF, so with that possibility in tow, I entered the Catholic Church.
    Without Luther’s understanding of the gospel I was without the possibility of salvation, but I wanted salvation and I wanted Jesus more than snything.

    Have lunch. I got a planter to build.

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  242. Susan,

    Well, I used to look to protestantism( think on that word. It’s negative. It affims nothing. It dissents) to tell me what the gospel is, as if the covenants people of God never knew before the birth of Luther.

    Your assumption that Protestant ideas did not exist before 1517 is sorely mistaken. Try making that argument before historians and you’ll get laughed out of the room.

    And Protestant affirms nothing? Last I looked Protestantism makes the positive affirmation that only grace saves, the only Scripture is inspired, etc.

    My faith is in Jesus, the same Jesus that thought it necessary to communicate graces through sacraments and so instituted a church to do so. Do you deny the need for intermediaries? The apostles and the scriptures are intermediaries too you know.

    What we deny is the need for infallible intermediaries between us and divine revelation. We actually believe divine revelation communicates to us. It’s why we’re Protestants.

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  243. Susan,

    No Catholics will be saved and all Catholics before the Reformation are doomed because the Church never never taught justification by faith alone or imputation( it was lost or repressed, remember?)

    Again, this is just wrong. 1 Clement, Epistle to Diogenetus, and others did teach this. And JBFA is really the only position consistent with the ecumenical creeds. Nothing in those creeds about works contributing condign or congruent merit. Nothing in those creeds about penance. And so on.

    The church had no settled position on justification prior to the Reformation. That’s why the Reformation happened. You don’t have to be Protestant to notice this. Trent was called to give the church a coherent and unified position on justification because it didn’t have one. If it did, there would have been no need for the council.

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  244. Susan, you didn’t answer the question (in a very long winded way). So you admit you don’t know if you’ll go to heaven?

    Where’s the certainty?

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  245. Susan, “I have no hope since I also deny Luther’s gospel.”

    No, you don’t have hope because you don’t know in what state your soul will be when you die.

    Like

  246. Robert,

    “It doesn’t say you need an infallible mediator between the individual and the revelation in one sphere and not the other.”

    Revelation is not given, if there be no authority to decide that which is given. That is why there must be an authority to distinguish divine revelation from opinion. You’re already affirming this when you affirm the Holy Spirit as the infallible mediator between you and revelation.

    “You want an infallible mediator for one but not another”

    Of course I do. Supernatural and divine truths are taken on the authority of another (one who cannot lie or deceive and is infallible), by definition, otherwise you reduce supernatural truths to natural ones attained by unaided reason and we’re in Pelagianland.

    “So moving on.”

    You appeal to Scripture and thus your canon. Your canon is reformable and fallible by your lights. You then claim this isn’t a problem in distinguishing divine truth from opinion because the Holy Spirit speaks to you in your canon. Mormons claim the same. RCs and EOs claim the same for the deuteros. Certain Protestants claim the same for disputed passages, while others deny it. So, we’re either left with a stalemate of subjectivism with everyone simply saying “I feel the Spirit talking and confirming this for me, sorry you don’t” or there’s an objective principled means for adjudicating these disagreements.

    “So the M doesn’t stand between you and the deposit to give you the accurate interpretation of the deposit (the S and the T)?”

    You can’t divorce ST from M is the point – that’s why it’s a triad and 3-legged stool. That’s why it’s inconsistent when you use that ladder for your canon and other fundamentals, then kick the ladder.

    “I agree. And the means of certainty for us are the the same as for the NT believers, namely divine revelation. What you have yet to demonstrate is that words heard with the ear from a guy in the same room as you are self-attesting and that words on the page are not.”

    NT believers did not asterisk every belief they held. They did not claim the type of certainty your side is advocating, namely one of reformable beliefs and perpetual opinion. Why? Because they submitted to an authority that offered irreformable teaching and claimed and exercised the ability to do so. why do you disclaim such certainty? Because Protestantism refuses and rejects that claim to that type of authority and ability.

    “How do you know that there has not yet been a cow discovered that can do such a thing? ”

    You’re still doing it. This is the skepticism we’re talking about. Not reinventing the wheel – https://oldlife.org/2015/12/03/have-you-guys-heard-of-assemblies/#comment-21266 and www(DOT)calledtocommunion(DOT)com/2013/11/lawrence-feingold-the-motives-of-credibility-for-faith/#comment-147179 where Bryan, Joshua, and others went over this with you at length.

    “No on both counts.”

    It isn’t logically impossible for the law of noncontradiction to be false? So it is logically impossible. See the incoherence? A non-square is a square. So a non-square is not a square.

    “NT believers had the words of Apostles and Jesus plus the Spirit with no infallible church standing between them and the Apostles/Christ.”

    Right. Jesus and the Apostles were infallible authorities offering irreformable teaching. Doesn’t ever happen in Protestantism.

    “You want to make a comparison, but there was no M of the sort Rome is in those days”

    Irrelevant to the mindmeld argument and not the point of the parallel. If fallible NT believers did not mindmeld with Jesus and the Apostles who offered irreformable teaching and were in a different/better position, there’s no need for fallible RC believers to mindmeld with Rome who offers irreformable teaching to be in a different/better position.

    “But it’s not our position”

    Saying you must asterisk every belief is your position. It’s like saying “no truth is knowable” – it’s self-defeating. CtC is not arguing we are skeptics – reread the thread you were involved in and see which side sounds skeptical.

    “Sure he did. What were they? There was no infallible Magisterium.”

    Right, because God was speaking directly to him. You’re the one positing God’s communication with him was such that he could not distinguish it from a bad dinner or schizophrenia, and thus had to just fideistically leap, rather than having reason and faith working together in informing his following.

    “The second concedes the Protestant position.”

    Affirming divine illumination does not concede the Protestant position, since every RC source affirms divine illumination works in the assent of faith and authority/ability of M.

    “Because the Bible is no dead letter, every time I read it or hear it read, I am being spoken to directly by God.”

    Are you being spoken to God in disputed passages and verses you are unsure on? What’s the guarantee that passages you feel are speaking to you now won’t be disputed in the future? Before you studied textual criticism, were there certain passages that spoke to you that you now dispute and so now no longer speak to you? Do you believe previous generations of Christians who read or heard books or passages you now reject or are doubtful as Scripture were deceived in feeling they were being spoken to directly by God? Do we see this model of subjectivism exercised in the NT or in the early church?

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  247. “No, you don’t have hope because you don’t know in what state your soul will be when you die.”

    The road is wide that leads to destruction.
    I have hope, but I don’t have certainty as in presumption( I’m just a creature)that I will be in a state of sanctifying grace ( not in mortal sin that is a spiritual death)when I die.
    It’s possible to be without sanctifying grace( out of friendship with God), you know.
    If it’s possible to be out of friendship with God then you can’t have certainty now, can you?
    God gives actual grace so that we will move towards repentance, but it’s we who do the repenting.

    “God created us without us: but he did not will to save us without us.” St. Augustine

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  248. D. G. Hart says:
    You look at the evidence of Protestantism to prove we’re flawed. >>>>

    Actually, I look at protestantism and see that it is not pillar and bulwark of anything, let alone the truth.

    You don’t deny you’re flawed. Catholics don’t deny that Catholics are flawed. We even see that no pope – not even Peter – was perfect. All were and are sinful, flawed, erring human beings.

    Yet God chooses whoever He wishes to accomplish His will. If He says that the Church is the pillar and bullwark of the truth, then who are we to argue? Can the pot argue with the Potter? Can the thing which is made disagree with its Maker and win?

    Here is what God says about the Church. Paul is obviously talking about the visible Church, not the invisible. Protestantism just doesn’t fit this description of the Church, especially since it makes no claim to any kind of certainty. Your guys here have made that very clear. They make no claim to being certain of anything, even that this verse is actally in the Bible. All they can do is apply formulas and make their best guesses based on the information they have available. They do not claim certainty.

    So, how can protestantism be the household of God? In fact, protestantism has given up on the idea that there is only one holy Catholic and apostolic Church. EO and Catholicism have not. You guys are the odd ones out – except that all who are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit are Christians and part of the Church – like it or not. You are not in full communion, nor do you wish to be.

    1 Timothy 3:15New International Version (NIV)

    15 if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.

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  249. “Again, this is just wrong. 1 Clement, Epistle to Diogenetus, and others did teach this.”

    Hmmm.
    From http://articulifidei.blogspot.com/2008/09/development-justificationsoteriology.html

    “It is obvious that in asserting justification by faith Clement was simply reproducing Paul’s idea without appreciating what it involved, and that he really agreed with the other Christians of his day that salvation is to be had only by obeying God and his will. That the early Christians should have departed from Paul in this matter is not surprising at all.” (Arthur Cushman McGiffert, A History of Christian Thought, vol. 1. 85.)

    “The fundamental idea at the back of the words dikaiosunē, dikaioumai seems to be the moral qualification which avails before God conceived as a quality of the soul. That is achieved by faith which is fear of God working itself out in obedience. And so Clement can say that we are “justified by works, not by words” ergois dikaioumenoi, mē logois, and insists that we are not justified by pistis alone but by pistis and eusebeia, by pistis and philozenia, by pistis and alētheia.” (Thomas F. Torrance, The Doctrine of Grace In the Apostolic Fathers, p. 49 – note: I have transliterated the Greek for my readers.)

    “…while sometimes Clement speaks in the very tones of Paul, as for instance on justification by faith (ch. 32:4), his leading convictions are somewhat different…Clement has moved away from the Pauline gospel into an atmosphere more concerned with moral life, and in particular with virtues of humility and order. Where ethical injunctions are secondary to Paul’s letters, they are primary in Clement. “(Cyril C. Richardson, Early Christian Fathers, p, 38.)

    Clement himself:

    “Blessed are we, beloved, if we keep the commandments of God in the harmony of love; that so through love our sins may be forgiven us. For it is written, “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not impute to him, and in whose mouth there is no guile.” (ch. 50, Donaldson & Roberts trans. – in ANF 1.18, 19.)

    [Also: “Let us clothe ourselves with concord and humility, ever exercising self-control, standing far off from all whispering and evil-speaking, being justified by our works, and not our words.” (ch. 30 – ANF 1.13); “We see, then, how all righteous men have been adorned with good works, and how the Lord Himself, adorning Himself with His works, rejoiced. Having therefore such an example, let us without delay accede to His will, and let us work the work of righteousness with our whole strength.” (ch. 33) – ANF 1.14; “Let him who has love in Christ keep the commandments of Christ. Who can describe the [blessed] bond of the love of God? What man is able to tell the excellence of its beauty, as it ought to be told? The height to which love exalts is unspeakable. Love unites us to God. Love covers a multitude of sins. Love beareth all things, is long-suffering in all things. There is nothing base, nothing arrogant in love. Love admits of no schisms: love gives rise to no seditions: love does all things in harmony. By love have all the elect of God been made perfect; without love nothing is well-pleasing to God.” (ch. 49 – ANF 1.18.]

    Diognetus:

    “The most definitive study of the epistle to date is Henry G. Meecham’s, The Epistle To Diognetus – The Greek Text With Introduction, Translation, and Notes (Manchester Univ. Press, 1949). Note what Meecham wrote:

    By righteousness of the Son man’s sins are ‘covered’ (see note on ix. 3). “In that righteousness we are justified. The Pauline term is used, but the meaning has become much less forensic. The thought is not that of an externally imputed righteousness, but of a real change in the sinful heart of man, and the writer seems to feel that the righteousness of Christ actually becomes ours” (Grensted). (Page 25.)

    “And JBFA is really the only position consistent with the ecumenical creeds. ”

    So both Rome and the East blew it. I guess Augustine, Athanasius, and others defending the creeds while affirming justification by infusion were clueless. Clearly Calvin and Luther had a better understanding. Oh well.

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  250. Susan, Jesus died for my sins — all of them. As Machen said, “so grateful for the active obedience of Christ.”

    In what do you put your trust? Infallibility?

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  251. Mermaid, “Catholics don’t deny that Catholics are flawed.”

    Well, you sure to go on and pound your breast (not coming on to you) about infallibility and all the certainty it yields (and how Protestants are Cartesians without it).

    So if popes are flawed, then they may be flawed about infallibility. Hmmmm.

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  252. MWF: In Protestantism, nothing is certain. You and Jeff have spent months, if not years, proving that. I am convinced.

    There is no certainty in anything you believe. Protestantism reflects that reality.

    Wrong. There is actually quite a bit of certainty in what we believe.

    What we don’t have is a certainty-without-possibilty-of-error.

    You don’t have that either. But bless your heart, you sure do boast as if you did.

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  253. Susan: what Cletus is doing is what I and MWF were trying to get at. He is doing a fantastic job.
    Hear him out.

    Susan, I am really, really trying to give him every opportunity to make his case.

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  254. Cletus,

    So both Rome and the East blew it.

    Pretty much yes.

    I guess Augustine, Athanasius, and others defending the creeds while affirming justification by infusion were clueless.

    But were they affirming justification by infusion according to the same definition of justification Trent gave. Highly debatable, unless you are a Roman Catholic who latches on to a word used by an earlier writer and infuses it with whatever the Magisterium of the moment says it is.

    Clearly Calvin and Luther had a better understanding.

    Better than Trent, most certainly. Better than Augustine? Calvin certainly didn’t think he was contradicting Augustine. It all really depends on if Augustine and Calvin were addressing the same exact concept when talking about justification. That’s up for debate.

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  255. Jeff Cagle says:
    July 21, 2016 at 4:38 pm
    MWF:
    In Protestantism, nothing is certain. You and Jeff have spent months, if not years, proving that. I am convinced.

    There is no certainty in anything you believe. Protestantism reflects that reality.>>>

    Jeff:
    Wrong. There is actually quite a bit of certainty in what we believe.>>>>

    Your religion claims something greater than “certainty”, unless you are using the word “certainty” in the place of “infallibility.”

    If you disagree with your particular version of Presbyterianism and its claim that the Bible is the only infallible rule of faith and practice, then just say so. Then what you say would make more sense.

    Have you in your own mind reformed sola scriptura?

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  256. Robert:
    That’s up for debate.>>>>

    Everything in protestantism is up for debate. No one can say that they have the authority over anyone else. It is every man for himself – each one with his own level of certainty. It cracks me up when Protestants start calling one another heretics. On what authority? Each man a pope.

    Protestantism is not this.:

    1 Timothy 3:15New King James Version (NKJV)

    15 but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

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  257. “Susan, Jesus died for my sins — all of them. As Machen said, “so grateful for the active obedience of Christ.”

    In what do you put your trust? Infallibility?”

    He died for everybody’s sin. He gives sufficient grace to all.
    I think Reformed Christians would welcome infallibility to prop up their JBFA. It can’t be dogma however while there is the Catholic doctrine of Grace. Believe infallibility is given by the Spirit to the Church , or don’t believe it is given to anyone. Your doctrines are logically Antinomian. You know how I know? Evil works don’t hinder salvation in your system.

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  258. Jeff Cagle says:
    July 21, 2016 at 4:47 pm
    Susan: what Cletus is doing is what I and MWF were trying to get at. He is doing a fantastic job.
    Hear him out.

    Susan, I am really, really trying to give him every opportunity to make his case.>>>>

    Oh, Jeff, he has more than made the case for the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

    You haven’t even started to make the claim that your religion meets that criteria.

    Your focus has been on how the Catholic Church could not possibly make that claim. You have taken the “not-Roman Catholic, not EO” position. Fine.

    Now try to make the claim that protestantism is the one holy catholic and apostolic church.

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  259. Webfoot,

    Everything in protestantism is up for debate. No one can say that they have the authority over anyone else. It is every man for himself – each one with his own level of certainty. It cracks me up when Protestants start calling one another heretics. On what authority? Each man a pope.

    It cracks me up when you say this and then I read the pope saying he’s seen the grace of marriage among cohabitating couples and that there is no grace of the sacrament among most RC married couples.

    It also cracks me up when you say this and then I see the number of pro-choice RCs.

    Apparently all that authority and certainty isn’t making it to the pope, much less the rank and file RCs. But I’ve come to learn that only a Protestant would expect Rome to care about dogma. The church itself seems to care only about ritual and protecting the clergy.

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  260. Susan, so you admit that you don’t know if you’re going to heaven. What if you’re reading Old Life, I say THINK, you get mad, break the sixth commandment, and you die?

    Where’s your certainty now? Are you in a better place because of infallibility?

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  261. Darryl,

    I could never be so angry at you that I would attempt to kill you. I honestly will your good.
    That doesn’t mean that I won’t still have to spend time in purgatory.

    “The Council of Trent teaches that the Ten Commandments are obligatory for Christians and that the justified man is still bound to keep them;28 the Second Vatican Council confirms: “The bishops, successors of the apostles, receive from the Lord . . . the mission of teaching all peoples, and of preaching the Gospel to every creature, so that all men may attain salvation through faith, Baptism and the observance of the Commandments”

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  262. Susan, you’re read the Bible. If you’re angry at me you have murdered me.

    21“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brotherc will be liable to judgment; whoever insultsd his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the helle of fire.

    And you think Protestantism is antinomian? Everything you say makes me think the same of Roman Catholicism. You live in a utopian world of certain knowledge and ever expanding grace. No matter what you or the bishops do turns up roses. Sin has no consequences in your w-w.

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  263. Susan, you converts are so easy on yourselves. Just apply the same critical perspective to your church that you do to Protestantism. That only seems fair. May even be balanced.

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  264. Susan Vader says: I could never be so angry at you that I would attempt to kill you. I honestly will your good.That doesn’t mean that I won’t still have to spend time in purgatory.

    Susan, Please admit it, Jesus already paid it all for His people. Blessed are the poor in spirit. (Matt 5:3) Please admit we got nothing without Him.

    that no man may boast before God. 1 Cor 1:29 for by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, 1 Cor 1:30

    like Abraham: with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.
    Therefore IT WAS ALSO CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. Rom 4:20 -22

    Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose trust is the LORD.“For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes;but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit. Jer 17:7-8
    aka Jesus says: I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. John 15:5….
    so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD. 1 Cor 1:31

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  265. Darryl,

    You said, “And you think Protestantism is antinomian? Everything you say makes me think the same of Roman Catholicism. You live in a utopian world of certain knowledge and ever expanding grace. No matter what you or the bishops do turns up roses. Sin has no consequences in your w-w.”

    When I was Reformed I would read the list of sexual sins that list of sins that Paul articulated ( 1 Corinthians 6:9-10)would keep you from entering the Kingdom of Heaven.Instead of considering each one independently, I blurred them together( sin is sin, right?) believing, I guess, that he articulated them only to show us how impossible it is to avoid sin. So the delineation is either to tell us how to avoid all sexual sin ( and if we do we aren’t guilty of actual sexual sins)or to figure out how our actions don’t meet the criteria described.
    “Malakoi” means weakness or softness. Paul said the effeminate would not enter Heaven. Homosexuals Christians don’t see this as applying to them as long as they aren’t trading sex for money, or behaving fearful and and vain( feminine traits).
    Loop hole or license?

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  266. Susan, your church teaches contraception is a mortal sin. Lots of church members use contraception. But Francis says its all about mercy.

    Who’s antinomian now? Whiskey priests? Mafia dons?

    THINK about Roman Catholicism the way you criticize Protestantism. It’s not fair. Boo hoo.

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  267. Susan,

    When I was Reformed I would read the list of sexual sins that list of sins that Paul articulated ( 1 Corinthians 6:9-10)would keep you from entering the Kingdom of Heaven.Instead of considering each one independently, I blurred them together( sin is sin, right?) believing, I guess, that he articulated them only to show us how impossible it is to avoid sin. So the delineation is either to tell us how to avoid all sexual sin ( and if we do we aren’t guilty of actual sexual sins)or to figure out how our actions don’t meet the criteria described.

    What is the point here? I’m not following you, especially the last sentence..

    The Reformed teach that some sins are more heinous than others but that there isn’t a set of sins that gets you booted from the love of God the first time you commit them.

    “Malakoi” means weakness or softness. Paul said the effeminate would not enter Heaven. Homosexuals Christians don’t see this as applying to them as long as they aren’t trading sex for money, or behaving fearful and and vain( feminine traits).
    Loop hole or license?

    ???? Francis has said things that imply that people actually engaged in regular homosexual behavior are in fact seeking Christ. How is that for a loophole?

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  268. Darryl,

    Mercy isn’t license and it isn’t nonjudgement either. It’s non-condemnation between us sinners( “Who am I to judge” sounds a lot like that trustworthy saying “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners- among who, ‘I am foremost’ “,wouldn’t you agree?) and being ambassadors.

    For Christ therefore we are ambassadors, God as it were exhorting by us. For Christ, we beseech you, be reconciled to God.”

    Besides, Catholicism still has its official teaching which can be researched and appealed to.

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  269. But Susan,

    You are judging people when you say they are in mortal sin. And where is Francis appealing to its official teaching when he says that cohabitating couples have the grace of the sacrament of marriage but validly married couples don’t?

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  270. Susan, doctrine shmoctrine. It all hangs on the bishops. That’s what you kept telling us in the epistemology seminar. And now you go confessional like a Protestant with her creeds? I really don’t think you’ve got this Roman Catholic thing down.

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  271. SDB: Jeff, I wonder if too much is riding on the term “certainty”.

    Oh, absolutely. The quest for certainty has become an issue that trumps the Gospel.

    Why did God give us His word? It was so that we might know and believe that Jesus is God, and that by believing, have life in His name. (John 20.31).

    But according to the CtC crowd, the real purpose of authority and infallibility is so that we can have absolute certainty.

    When you couple that with appeal to unwritten tradition, the CtCers look pretty Gnostic: salvation comes through certainty, delivered by an absolute human authority (appointed by God and guided by the Spirit, natch), whose most important doctrines were transmitted outside of the Scriptures.

    SDB: We can think of it statistically when tied to measurement and well defined probability distributions. But I am not so sure it applies to non-quantitative subjects like history or theology. What do you think? I get Plantinga’s Bayesian argument for the rationality of theistic belief, but even there it strikes me as a more analogical justification.

    I think of it as semi-quantitative. There are aspects that can absolutely be quantified: the rate of error of transcriptions in manuscripts. There are aspects that possibly cannot be: the differences between doctrinal nuances.

    But the position as posed is that submitting to the authority gives certainty that is free of possibility of error. And that translates to a mathematical question: What is the probability that you are in error (whether measured quantitatively or qualitatively)? In other words, correctness might not be quantitative, but certainty is.

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  272. When you couple that with appeal to unwritten tradition, the CtCers look pretty Gnostic: salvation comes through certainty, delivered by an absolute human authority (appointed by God and guided by the Spirit, natch), whose most important doctrines were transmitted outside of the Scriptures.

    Exactly!

    I think of it as semi-quantitative. There are aspects that can absolutely be quantified: the rate of error of transcriptions in manuscripts. There are aspects that possibly cannot be: the differences between doctrinal nuances.

    Perhaps, but I don’t see how one could go from an error rate of 0.42±0.13 transcription errors/yr to a 99.7% confidence interval that 1 Corinthians was written by Paul, Acts correctly reports his encounter with Christ, or Jesus really did rise from the dead. It seems to me that what we have in these case is psychological (subjective) certainty. One can be 100% certain (not entertaining any doubt) that these things are true while recognizing that it is not impossible to be wrong. So I get how one can quantify certainty (confidence intervals), I don’t think that really fits into what we are talking about here.

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  273. Jeff, “But according to the CtC crowd, the real purpose of authority and infallibility is so that we can have absolute certainty.”

    You left out, “and to make Protestantism look bad so that epistemologically inclined Protestants become Roman Catholic.”

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  274. With my head spinning from things like “0.42±0.13 transcription errors/yr to a 99.7% confidence interval’, I need to recap for myself the issue :
    1) what are the promises which God has spoken
    2) do we believe His promises
    -with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, Rom 4:20
    -let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; Heb 10:23

    …..because without faith it is impossible to please Him Heb 11:6

    good post this am on Abraham’s faith: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/abrahams-great-act-faith/

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  275. SDB: One can be 100% certain (not entertaining any doubt)

    Usually in the literature two terms are teased out: certitude (“psychological certainty”) and certainty proper, which is an epistemic property. SEP has psychological and epistemic certainty.

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/certainty/

    I usually regard epistemic certainty as a justified confidence interval, possibly of unknown width (similar to Reed or van Cleve in the article). In Beyesian schemes, there not sharp boundaries between the two kinds of certainties because of the need to select priors.

    But here’s the rub: psychological certainty does not bleed over into epistemic. One can feel very certain, yet be wrong.

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  276. @ Ali: Amen and good recap. The purpose of all of this mathematizing is not to denigrate the central role of faith, but to defend faith (believing in God’s promises) against a frank factionalism: “You must submit to Peter before you can know.”

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  277. “The purpose of all of this mathematizing is not to denigrate the central role of faith, but to defend faith (believing in God’s promises) against a frank factionalism: “You must submit to Peter before you can know.””

    Part of the Faith is the role of the Church, though, Jeff. You can’t have Faith in what you don’t know.
    Is there a Charism that is needed or not, to be able to know the truth?
    That’s all that’s being proposed.
    I know with certainty that Lord Nelson existed. His last words, I know I’m the testimony of those who were with him as he was dying. He was brave and patriotic, but maybe his actual dying words were not what has been attributed to him.
    If it it were me with a canonball or musketball through my spine, I’d be mentioning God, not my country.
    So yes there are some things we can’t know with certainty.
    I know with certainty that you exist, but I don’t know what you are thinking this very minute unless you relay that to me. If you do, I will then know with certainty.
    If you lie to me or trick me, I can’t know with certainty that what you said the first time is true( but you do) or if it’s even true that you lied to me initially, but if you were speaking so as to be sincere, I would believe that at least you believed you were thinking such and such at that time.
    Since God is the principle writer of Scripture and only revealer, He reveals so that we can have true knowledge of what is real.
    I may not know if Jesus’s heart began to beat first or if electrical synapse occured in His brain first, or if his soul returned and photons lit him up from head to toe. I may not know why he rolled back the stone when he had the ability to walk through walls, but the Faith teaches that the stone was rolled away and that stands for his resurrection.

    All that it means to have infallibility is that we can know what was meant for our salvation. If the sacraments are necessary for our salvation, I want to know. If Mass is unlike Protestant communion as being necessary for our salvation, I want to know.
    If something hinders my salvation I want to know.
    I don’t have to know the details necessarily( transubstantiation) but I want to know with certainty that the bread and the wine are necessary for my salvation.

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  278. @Jeff thanks for the link. Lots to chew on there.

    “But here’s the rub: psychological certainty does not bleed over into epistemic. One can feel very certain, yet be wrong.”

    Exactly. I get the sense these types of certainty have not been clearly delineated in some of these discussions here leading to some talking past one another.

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  279. “One can feel very certain, yet be wrong.”

    Exactly. I get the sense these types of certainty have not been clearly delineated in some of these discussions here leading to some talking past one another.”

    I too agree. It’s certain that if we have differing particulars(doctrines) yet similar Christian nomenclature to express and define what isn’t explicitly spelled out in scripture, that one of us ,or all of us, are open to error, “IF” one of us doesn’t have divine charism.
    Can you admit that whoever does( and I’m speaking of one of our traditions as integrally possessing that charism) is not capable of being mistaken?

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  280. Susan, “All that it means to have infallibility is that we can know what was meant for our salvation.”

    And what that means is that you don’t know if you are saved. Mortal sin looms with death. THINK about the irony. You choose epistemological certainty (which doesn’t exist) for soteriological uncertainty (which you won’t acknowledge).

    Plus, your church is infallibly wrong about salvation. Whoosh. There goes infallibility. “If any man preach another gospel. . . “

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  281. “one of us ,or all of us, are open to error, “IF” one of us doesn’t have divine charism.”
    Even with the gift of prophecy (or any other divine gift) one can err. The exception of course is when what you say does not originate in your will.

    “Can you admit that whoever does( and I’m speaking of one of our traditions as integrally possessing that charism) is not capable of being mistaken?”
    I could, but I would be lying. Obviously neither of our traditions (broadly construed) can be said to have been incapable of being mistaken. The difference between our traditions is that yours claims that under certain conditions, particular teachings are incapable of error. We believe that only God is incapable of error.

    It seems a fundamental dividing line is our understanding of God’s word. Does it require a human interpreter with whom we can interact who is infallible or is it itself living and active and stands in judgment of all interpreters? Lots of caveats follow of course, but I think this gets at the heart if the matter.

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  282. Susan: Can you admit that whoever does (and I’m speaking of one of our traditions as integrally possessing that charism) is not capable of being mistaken?

    Maybe, but it’s not quite that easy. Who is the “whoever” in your system? It’s not the priests, nor the bishops, nor the cardinals, but only the popes and only on the rare occasions of ex cathedra speech.

    At all other times, the magisterium is capable of being mistaken. Even given your system, everything you learned in RCIA, every homily you’ve heard, every time you’ve recited the creeds in English — all of that is capable of being mistaken. Even the explanations from your priests of the meaning of Vatican II is capable of being mistaken.

    And yet, my guess is that you acknowledge that possibility and remain untroubled by it because you feel that the chances of error in RCIA, in the homilies, in the creed translations are vanishingly small. Am I right in that guess?

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  283. Even the explanations from your priests of the meaning of Vatican II is capable of being mistaken.”

    I admit that anyone could give a wrong explanation. But I don’t believe that anything in Vatican II was erroneous. In fact, getting some aspect wrong already presupposes that the truth is inherrant in the doctrine.

    “And yet, my guess is that you acknowledge that possibility and remain untroubled by it because you feel that the chances of error in RCIA, in the homilies, in the creed translations are vanishingly small. Am I right in that guess?””

    The only reason I am untroubled by the possibility of the tranmission of some error is because I know that I can get at the truth.
    I am able to stand corrected.

    If you can’t have certainty that the doctrines within Catholicism are untrue, on what grounds to you champion your own views? Better than that, how do you know that your views are certain?

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  284. Jeff,

    If your pastor is mistaken because he interprets and teaches scripture through a hermeneutic of JBF and imputed righteousness, how would you know? You assume that those reformed doctrines are the truth and therefore certain, I would take it?
    If he veers off, so you know with what certainties to correct him? Is there a way to stand corrected?
    Does it even matter what anyone teaches if we can’t get to the truth?

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  285. Susan,

    The only reason I am untroubled by the possibility of the tranmission of some error is because I know that I can get at the truth.

    The only two options aren’t Infallible mediator between you and the deposit and not getting at the truth. That’s the assumption that the CtC argument assumes. It’s radical skepticism that is not consistently applied.

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  286. Robert,
    “The only two options aren’t Infallible mediator between you and the deposit and not getting at the truth.”

    So your saying a supernatural charism isn’t needed at all? Want to tell me what the role of the Church is? The options are between perspucuity across the board or a needed charism.

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  287. Susan: Does it even matter what anyone teaches if we can’t get to the truth?

    Consider that your question sounds more like Pilate than Jesus: Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”

    Here’s the careful distinction: We can get at truth. We cannot get at certainty-without-possibility-of-error. That’s it. I can frequently read a text and understand what it means. I cannot assert that I have infallible knowledge of what that text means.

    Susan: If you can’t have certainty that the doctrines within Catholicism are untrue, on what grounds to you champion your own views? Better than that, how do you know that your views are certain?

    I’m looking for my views to be true, not infallibly certain.

    So, to the best of my ability, I compare them

    (1) To the infallible Scripture, and
    (2) To the fallible-yet-authoritative tradition of the Church.

    In so doing (and iteratively, as Cletus observed), I am attempting to hear the voice of the Lord through the Scripture, trusting that the Spirit will work understanding in His own time and way.

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  288. Susan: If your pastor is mistaken because he interprets and teaches scripture through a hermeneutic of JBF and imputed righteousness, how would you know? You assume that those reformed doctrines are the truth and therefore certain, I would take it? If he veers off, so you know with what certainties to correct him? Is there a way to stand corrected?

    This a very realistic question, and it is played out in the lives of believers daily. Another way of putting it is, “Is there a principled way to test beliefs and change your view if necessary?”

    In my own case, I changed beliefs at several points: From free-will(ish) Southern Baptist to predestinarian Baptist and thence to Presbyterian. More recently, I transitioned from being generally opposed to 2-kingdom theology to being generally supportive.

    Those changes came about because life circumstances put me in a position to question my beliefs, so I found myself having to ask,

    (1) “What does the Scripture teach?”
    (2) “What has the church historically taught, and what were their reasons for doing so?”

    That’s the best principled method I know because it goes “down to the metal” to the revelation that God has provided, and because it attempts to guard against idiosyncrasy by listening to the wisdom of many counselors.

    I find myself much in the same position as Jesus’ followers:

    Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

    Peter was concerned about the truth, not his certainty.

    My part is to hear God’s word and to try to understand it and obey it. At no point does God commend to us a quest for absolute certainty.

    The alternative approach, to try to find ahead of time a Church that will resolve all of your uncertainties, is placing all of your epistemological eggs in a single basket: Your own ability to identify the One True Church. That’s a poor method for arriving at truth.

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  289. Jeff:
    The alternative approach, to try to find ahead of time a Church that will resolve all of your uncertainties, is placing all of your epistemological eggs in a single basket: Your own ability to identify the One True Church. That’s a poor method for arriving at truth.>>>>>

    There is only one Church. That is true. She is by nature pillar and ground of the truth.

    Maybe you don’t find her. Maybe she finds you. Sometimes it takes a Saint to show a person the way home.

    I can’t speak for anyone else.

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  290. Jeff,

    I looks like we are talking past each other. What do you think I mean by certainty?
    When I say I was looking for certainty, I mean that I was sure that since truth didn’t subsist in a many Christianities scenario: ie, “this denomination believes in the trinity( assuming that trinitarianism was true) while it lacked infant baptism( I didn’t want to put tradition ahead of Scripture here you know), and that denomination believed in the real presence yet they cut up pita bread, discard leftovers in the trash and there is no consecretion of the elements or genuflection.
    Could I go to a church where all of these aspects were addressed culminating in the truth? Like a rainbow overarching and connecting one authoritative visible community, even if there were dissenters? In fact, was there such an entity that made dissenting to any of these things and act of dissent and possibly heresy?

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  291. Susan, “I don’t believe that anything in Vatican II was erroneous.”

    Susan, meet Boniface, your brother in Roman communion:

    Back at the Second Vatican Council, the Declaration on Religious Liberty Dignitatis Humanae made a very interesting statement. The opening paragraph of the declaration states that the document “leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ” – and immediately after stating that traditional Catholic doctrine remains “untouched”, goes on over fifteen chapters to propose things that had never before been expressed in any official organ of Catholic teaching. Theologians have been muddled ever since trying to figure out how such a novel document can be reconciled with tradition – how such a document can leave Catholic doctrine “untouched” while seemingly overturning it in every paragraph.

    Not everybody is bothered by this. Many people will simply take the Declaration’s statement that traditional doctrine is “untouched” as establishing the fact, as if there mere statement of continuity is all that matters.

    One recent example is Pope Francis’ off the cuff statements on intercommunion between Lutherans and Catholics. After seemingly suggesting that Lutherans could receive Communion in the Catholic Church if their conscience was clear about it, Cardinal Gerhard Müller stepped in to do damage control. But rather than explain how the pope’s comments could be reconciled with Catholic doctrine, he merely declared that they were in line with Catholic doctrine and said other inferences were “misunderstandings” – all the while never addressing the pope’s actual comments. Please see our article here for a more thorough review of this problem.

    But who cares? Müller declared continuity so continuity is established.

    Susan, you really do need to get out more.

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  292. Susan, you have dissent in your utopian church. How do you choose between Cardinal Kasper and Cardinal Sarah? Just follow Pope Francis? Better put away Aquinas. This pope has the gift of long wind.

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  293. D. G. Hart says:
    July 24, 2016 at 8:35 am
    Susan, so you get to the truth and it lands you in eternal damnation? Are you better off?>>>>

    Come on, Brother Hart. Ease up a little. Not to rub it in, but yesterday Jeff gave away the store when he told me that I was absolutely right about something.

    Do I have to explain to you how Jeff undermined his own epistemology in one sentence?

    Here is what Jeff said:
    You’re absolutely right…
    Let’s leave this topic.>>>>>

    No. Jeff left the topic. And when he returns, the topic will still be here. It always is. 😉

    Brother Hart, you can join the discussion any time you wish.

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  294. Truly, a shameless abuse of ellipses. I give you credit for being right about one thing, and you tout that as a complete surrender of my position?

    Be careful about ordinary truth, Mermaid. You have to demonstrate competence in handling facts and evidence before you have any credibility on infallible truth. Baldly out-of-context quotes make your cause look very bad.

    JRC: Let’s leave this topic.

    MWF: No. Jeff left the topic.

    I’m here. In fact, I’m still waiting for a reply to my simple question: How can a fallible human being, using a fallible chain of evidence, achieve certainty-without-possibility-of-error?

    So far, nothing resembling an answer has appeared.

    However, you have used many, many words to cover up the fact that you don’t have an answer.

    I think you would do better to be silent than to continue to evade. I was trying to suggest that without having to be explicit, so that you could save a little face. But you wouldn’t take a hint, so here we are being explicit against our will:

    We all see that you don’t have an answer. Time to stop digging.

    Sorry to have to be so blunt.

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  295. Susan: It looks like we are talking past each other. What do you think I mean by certainty?

    As I understand it, the certainty you are looking for is the ability to “know without possibility of error that your beliefs are true.”

    You describe it as finding a church whose judgments are guaranteed to be true, so it may be the case that you are less concerned about your own personal beliefs and more concerned about the beliefs of the institution to which you belong. I’m not sure. Mermaid definitely seems to fall on the personal belief side of things, while Cletus seems sometimes to argue about the beliefs of the institution.

    Generally speaking, “certainty” refers to certainty of personal belief.

    Susan: Could I go to a church where all of these aspects were addressed culminating in the truth? Like a rainbow overarching and connecting one authoritative visible community, even if there were dissenters? In fact, was there such an entity that made dissenting to any of these things and act of dissent and possibly heresy?

    Right, so there are really two questions here:

    Existence: IS there such a church?

    Identity: If there is such a church, which is it?

    Two questions for you

    (1) What precipitated your search for such an entity?

    (2) On what ground did you conclude that there much be such a church?

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  296. Jeff,

    “Certitude is correlative to truth, for truth is the object of the intellect. Knowledge means knowledge of truth; and hence we are in the habit of saying simply of a proposition that “it is certain”, to express that it is true, and that its truth is so evident as legitimately to produce certitude”

    I believe God cannot deceive. If he speaks, then there is no error.
    You say that you believe the words of God, the promises of God.
    Could you tell me what God has spoken and not what you believe he has spoken and how you parse those two things. They could be one in the same if you are certain about what he has spoken, yes?

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  297. Jeff, please consider my questions above. They are important to our discussion too.

    I will answer what you asked, I just don’t want my questions above to get forgotten:)

    1) What precipitated your search for such an entity?”

    Doubt about what God has spoken since there are differing views about things essential.

    “(2) On what ground did you conclude that there much be such a church?”

    If there is no way to settle the questions about what we disagree, there is no real authority. That and that scripture says that Jesus gave the Church authority and so there must be one authority.
    Scripture doesn’t trump the Church if the Church is of equal authority.

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  298. Yes, Jeff, I guess that’s my question: Besides being certain that God has spoken, are you certain that you know what God has spoken?
    Your not a universal skeptic are you?

    ” Literally universal scepticism is impossible, for it is a profession of knowledge to assert that nothing can be known, and to believe that there can be no belief. It is thus a contradiction in terms. A sceptic should in consistency be sceptical as to his own scepticism; but no attention would be given to such a sceptic unless as one attends, for amusement, to a jester. “

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  299. Jeff:
    MWF: No. Jeff left the topic.

    Jeff:
    I’m here. In fact, I’m still waiting for a reply to my simple question: How can a fallible human being, using a fallible chain of evidence, achieve certainty-without-possibility-of-error?>>>

    Your argument is that no one can be 100% certain of anything, anytime, anyplace. You killed your argument.

    You recognize that an ordinary and individual Christian like myself can be absolutely right about something. I’m not the one who said it. You did.

    How often can an individual Christian be absolutely right about a point of faith and practice?

    The problem in the way you have set up the question. You leave the Holy Spirit out of the chain. Factor Him in, and then see what answer you get.

    The question is more like one an atheist, agnostic or skeptic would ask – someone who does not recognize the Holy Spirit’s work in the Church and in the individual member of Christ’s Body.

    For a moment you dropped your guard and answered like someone who really does believe the Bible.

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  300. Susan:

    Forgive me, but I’m having to guess as to which questions you mean. If these are not the ones you meant, let me know and I’ll try again.

    Susan: If your pastor is mistaken because he interprets and teaches scripture through a hermeneutic of JBF and imputed righteousness, how would you know?

    Only by comparison to Scripture.

    Susan: You assume that those reformed doctrines are the truth and therefore certain, I would take it?

    No, rather, I conclude that the reformed doctrines are the truth (by comparison to Scripture) and therefore correct, UNLESS

    * The reformed doctrines are contrary to or an incomplete statement of Scriptural teaching (which would be established by direct statements and good and necessary inferences), OR
    * Scripture is not in fact God’s word — which I consider to be impossible.

    Susan: If he veers off, so you know with what certainties to correct him? Is there a way to stand corrected?

    By comparison to Scripture. In the case of my pastor, since it is actually the Session’s job to correct, we would correct in concert, to reduce the chance of idiosyncrasy.

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  301. Sorry about that, Jeff. You answered an earlier question which we can leave alone right now.( This is getting jumbled; wish the posts were numbered)

    Anyways here’s the part I meant:

    Could you tell me what God has spoken and not what you believe he has spoken and how you parse those two things. They could be one in the same if you are certain about what he has spoken, yes?

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  302. Hi Darryl,

    “Susan, please answer my question. Are you better off with soteriological uncertainty AND papal certainty?”

    What’s soteriolgical certainty? We’re have a supernatural end that is birthed when we’re baptised. That birth blooms and grows because we reveive sanctifying grace, that’s why it’s a sacrament. But I can lose it through mortal sin. If I have true contrition and go to congession, I am restored again.
    If I identified the true church, I get the true sacraments. I did identify the true church and it has a long sucession of apostolic authority.
    I’m not supposed to pick a church that tells me what I want to hear(itching ears).

    Is anyone else confused by Jeff’s remarks?

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  303. Susan,

    This is certainty:

    True believers may have the assurance of their salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted; as, by negligence in preserving of it, by falling into some special sin which woundeth the conscience and grieveth the Spirit; by some sudden or vehement temptation, by God’s withdrawing the light of his countenance, and suffering even such as fear him to walk in darkness and to have no light: yet are they never utterly destitute of that seed of God, and life of faith, that love of Christ and the brethren, that sincerity of heart, and conscience of duty, out of which, by the operation of the Spirit, this assurance may, in due time, be revived; and by the which, in the meantime, they are supported from utter despair.

    Meanwhile, you can lose your salvation and die in sin. You say, “I can lose it through mortal sin.”

    Are you better off?

    THINK about it.

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  304. Darryl,

    Your confessions are wrong.
    Mortal sin and sins that don’t lead to death are doctrines that predate the Reformation.

    “Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. However, although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God.”

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  305. Jeff Cagle says:
    July 24, 2016 at 5:34 pm
    @ MWF:

    Two words: Rhetoric.>>>

    One word for your argumentation. Confused.

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  306. Susan, the whole Bible attests that only one sin leads to death = unbelief, those who don’t receive Him/don’t believe in His name and it is difficult to see unbelief.

    But In Him, the saved, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of our salvation—having also believed, were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

    He who establishes us in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.

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  307. Webfoot,

    Your argument is that no one can be 100% certain of anything, anytime, anyplace. You killed your argument.

    No, that’s really not our argument. That’s your argument, that you can’t be 100% certain of supernatural realities but that your church can.

    You recognize that an ordinary and individual Christian like myself can be absolutely right about something. I’m not the one who said it. You did.

    Actually, all we are saying is that an infallible Magisterium doesn’t give you more assurance of being right.

    How often can an individual Christian be absolutely right about a point of faith and practice?

    As often as he or she heeds Scripture.

    The problem in the way you have set up the question. You leave the Holy Spirit out of the chain. Factor Him in, and then see what answer you get.

    No. The Reformed tradition has a very robust doctrine of the Holy Spirit. We just don’t tie him up and put him in a basement in Vatican City, hauling him out every so often when pressing questions such as which potato chip in the shape of Mary is actually a miracle comes up.

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  308. Hi Susan,

    Availability is limited, so I may delay response until later this week. Before answering your (good) question, I want to answer another one you asked above. I want to ask you to take some time chewing on this, because I will be cutting against the grain of the voices that have been speaking from your side:

    Susan: [You’re] not a universal skeptic are you?

    No, I’m not. And in fact, I’m very much an epistemic or anti-skeptic, which is the position I have been angling for throughout these threads.

    Let me explain, because some on your side have confused our position with skepticism.

    Skepticism (<a href="http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/skepticism/"SEP article here) proceeds from the principle of denying that we can ever be justified in knowing anything. Since this is self-defeating as stated, skeptics usually put forward what could count as certain knowledge (such as elimination of all doubt, or closure — the elimination of the contrary), then proceed to show that such a criterion cannot hold.

    Notice the elements of skepticism:

    Criterion: A stringent criterion for knowledge;
    Denial: and a denial that any proposition can meet that criterion.

    Now, it appears on this side that CtCers have put forward an idiosyncratic form of skepticism.

    Stringent criterion of knowledge: One can only be said to “know” if one knows with certainty-without-possibility-of-error. This is the definition advocated by Cletus, Mermaid, yourself, and Bryan.

    Denial that any proposition can meet said criterion: Unless one is submitting to an infallible authority, it is argued, one cannot have certainty-without-possibility-of-error of any reading of Scripture, any theological proposition. Hence, without the infallible authority, one cannot know anything theological.

    Here though, the Denial is idiosyncratic. For it is acknowledged (by Cletus and Mermaid at least) that it is possible to erroneously identify an infallible authority. However, this is neutralized as a principle for doubt by invoking the certitude of faith. Further, possession of the infallible authority is assumed sufficient to satisfy the Criterion for knowledge.

    I consider this line of skepticism to be bad philosophy for several reasons. I’ve been trying to draw out those reasons in the discussion, arguing against the skepticism by employing various arguments from contradiction.

    If you take a look at the various “knowledge” threads and condense my posts to a few sentences, here they are.

    (1) The Criterion adduced above is unacceptably stringent because there are all manner of propositions that we accept as “known” without requiring an infallible authority. To wit:

    * We accept as known that bats will not fly out my nose — or yours. Yet we do not have an infallible authority to tell us so.
    * We accept as known that the air in the room will not suddenly rush to one corner and freeze. Yet we do not have an infallible authority to tell us so.
    * Catholics accept as known the teachings in the copy of the CCC in their hands (or on the Net), yet they do not possess an infallible copy of the CCC.

    In other words, Catholic interlocutors here do not live by their own criterion. This argues strongly that the Criterion is wrong. We can have knowledge without requiring that it be certain-without-possibility-of-error.

    We haven’t yet gotten to reasonably discussion how that can be. But that’s my position, and it is fundamentally anti-skeptical: We can know without needing to meet a superhuman criterion of certainty.

    (2) The Denial put forward by Catholic interlocutors is self-defeating. For while in theory they possess within paradigm an infallible authority, in practice they have no contact with said authority. Hence, their own knowledge is condemned by their own Denial.

    Since Catholic interlocutors are seemingly unaware of this (as evidence by the Monster-Cricket-sized silence in the face of my simple question), it appears that they have mentally transferred the within-paradigm infallibility of the Pope speaking ex cathedra and the Church speaking through infallible councils to the teachings of their local priests and bishops.

    To sum up: I am an anti-skeptic. To arrive at that position, I am first showing the unreasonableness of the CtC Selective Skepticism by taking it to its logical conclusion: If we adopt the Criterion and the Denial, then it turns out that no-one knows anything. Since this is clearly false, it must be that the Criterion or the Denial or both are flawed.

    I’m out of time, so I have to post this without proofing. Yikes.

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  309. Susan, but our confessions teach what the Bible teaches. You need to add tradition to Scripture. What’s up with that?

    But if you want the uncertainty of not knowing whether you will go to heaven, it’s a free country.

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  310. Hello there Ali!

    You asked:
    ( sorry, I cut off the beginning)””attests that only one sin leads to death = unbelief, those who don’t receive Him/don’t believe in His name and it is difficult to see unbelief.”

    Sin against the Holy Spirit is unpardonable because someone actually can resist grace.

    Reformers believe that God predestins some souls while leaving others to perish.
    So according to Reformed theology the case is that he chooses some, giving them faith, while others he predestined for hell. If that’s true then whose fault is it that they don’t have saving faith?

    The alternative is the Catholic view. This is that God gives every soul actual grace to seek Him( because he loves the whole world). They then get baptised and this removes the stain of original sin, then they get confirmation( holy chrismation in the Orthodox Church), but they are still themselves and have concupiscence( downward pull) and so the world the flesh and the devil are actual threats to our sanctification.

    “But In Him, the saved, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of our salvation—having also believed, were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.”

    You propose a gospel of faith alone. When does the sealing of the Holy Spirit happen? It happens at Confirmation. But you can quench the Holy Spirit. This means that participation in the trinity stops, because we cut ourselves off from Love, a life giving Spirit.

    “He who establishes us in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.”

    Again, the Holy Spirit indwells us more fully at our confirmation so that we can better bear witness to the faith.
    He is our pledge, but we can choose to do good or evil. If we do evil, he is grieved and is no longer with us.

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  311. Hi Jeff,

    Thank you for writing. I will read everything you said, but I don’t know when I will be able to respond.
    I am having an ant infestation, and I’m trying to design and build a drought tolerant landscape using, mulch, pebbles, and decomposed granite. Then my kids need a some trips to the beach!
    I will report back when I’m able:)

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